Five strikers for Chelsea to savour for next season
Fernando Torres’ former club Atletico Madrid want him back, or so the tabloids claim. Couple this with the candid camera Jose Mourinho “no strikers” gaffe and 2/1 Premier League title shots Chelsea will be short up front.
Coral’s football experts have put their heads together and come up with five options that could be leading the line at Stamford Bridge next term.
Why do Atletico want Torres back? It suggests they will cash in on a star striker for the second summer running. It was Radamel Falcao they parted with for a cool £50m last year, but the Blues want Brazilian-born Spain cap Costa, 25, for a more modest £27m.
Press reports claim Mourinho has made him Chelsea’s top summer target, and sending El Nino for a Second Coming to the Vicente Calderon as a makeweight only seems to sweeten the deal. ‘The Special One’ may be underestimating Costa’s value, however.
Atletico have a release clause in his contract of a reported £34m. It seems highly unlikely, then, that they will sell Costa, who has 30 goals in all competitions this term, for anything less than that.
The Blues can certainly afford to stump up the £7m shortfall between their rumoured valuation and what Atletico think he’s worth. Costa would add that natural finishing instinct, which seems so badly lacking in present Chelsea options.
Currently sidelined by a serious knee injury, Colombia and Monaco hitman Falcao’s participation at the World Cup on South American soil hangs in the balance. He is a 22/1 shot to recover in time and win the Golden Boot.
Doctors are positive about Falcao’s prospects of recovery, but rushing back from ligament damage holds its own dangers for prospective suitor Mourinho. Until sustaining his injury, there is no doubting his stats are hugely impressive.
Since moving to Europe, Falcao has scored 153 club goals in 198 matches in all competitions. That works out at a phenomenal strike rate of better than three for every four games played (77.27 per cent).
Fans who fantasise about Falcao, 28, leading the line at Chelsea must make allowances for the likelihood his injury will affect him. Monaco will want to recoup their outlay on him last summer and he is thus a more expensive option than Costa.
On-loan Everton striker Lukaku has scored more Premier League goals (12) than Torres (four), Samuel Eto’o (eight) or Demba Ba (three) back at his parent club. Mourinho could do a lot worse than backing the big Belgian to be the focal point of his attack next term.
Chelsea’s success in the first Mourinho spell and since has largely come because of a strong, mobile frontman in Didier Drogba. Lukaku is in the same mould. At just 20 years of age, he still has some development to do, but he is the best in-house solution the Blues have.
There are similarities between Lukaku and Drogba’s early Premier League seasons too. Having a target up top that holds the ball up and can bring teammates into play may be old-fashioned, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will fail to succeed at the Bridge.
Mourinho should place faith in Lukaku to do a job that Torres, Eto’o and Ba simply are not capable of doing. The best thing about this, from an accounting perspective, is he will not cost Chelsea any extra money.
Robert Lewandowski’s imminent arrival at Champions League holders Bayern Munich may mean the end for Croatia frontman Mandzukic at the Allianz Arena. Mandzukic has done nothing wrong and is the leading Bundesliga marksman, but Pep Guardiola has got a younger man coming in.
What Munich seem willing to let go, for £25m, could spark a bidding war between Premier League giants. Chelsea should be in the thick of that alongside Arsenal and Manchester United. So will be Juventus, who have dominated Italy’s Serie A in the same way Bayern have swept aside all challengers in Germany.
Mandzukic is slightly rangier than the Drogba mould allows for, but still possesses sufficient strength and is certainly mobile enough to fit the bill. He has already surpassed last season’s total for Munich in the current campaign, so he could be on course to break the 30-goal barrier for the first time in his career.
At 27, Mandzukic is entering his prime, but England is not exactly a place where Croatia international strikers have flourished in the past. The likes of Ivan Klasnic (Bolton Wanderers) and Mladen Petric (Fulham and West Ham) have flopped after swapping the Bundesliga for the Premier League.
Rumours in February surfaced that Mourinho might launch an audacious £32m bid to land Sweden star Ibrahimovic. ‘The Special One’ swiftly scotched such speculation, however.
Ibrahimovic worked with Mourinho at Inter Milan, but it is PSG boss Laurent Blanc who is getting the best out him. Showing no signs of slowing down at 32, the Swede has averaged a goal per game for the Parisians this term.
Reaching 40 in all competitions by mid-March is frightening, no matter what league you play in. Could Ibrahimovic become bored in Ligue 1 as French opposition looks simply too easy for him? He has never played in the Premier League either, so could he be tempted to finish his career here?
PSG are a decent outside bet to win the Champions League this term, simply because of Ibrahimovic’s presence at the Parc des Princes. He is also chasing the Golden Boot and has hugely attractive odds of 4/1 to be leading marksman. Football fans want to see him in the Premier League next season.