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Chelsea interested in signing Ashley Barnes from Burnley as their search for a striker enters surreal territory

Previous targets this transfer window include Andy Carroll, Peter Crouch, Christian Benteke and Islam Slimani.

In these crazy times it’s worth remembering that Chelsea are the reigning champions.

Imagine if somebody swaggered up to you at the end of last season and said ‘Antonio Conte will be trying to sign Carroll, Crouchy and Slimani soon’ — you’d have them sectioned on the spot.

But that is now our reality.

Antonio Conte is desperately trying to recruit a new forward

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You okay, pal?

After a failed attempt to sign permanently crocked Andy Carroll, interest in 36-year-old Peter Crouch, and consideration of tragic flop Islam Slimani, Chelsea have gone one step further in pursuit of a back-up centre-forward.

Their latest target, according to Sky Sports, is none other than Ashley Barnes.

The 28-year-old forward has scored 17 goals in 114 league games for Burnley.

In fact, he’s scored 18 goals in all comps in the last five years.

His most prolific season for the Clarets came last campaign when he bagged six goals in 31 games.

No disrespect to Barnes, he works hard for the team and makes himself a nuisance among the opposition’s defence, but is he really the answer to Chelsea’s problems?

What a world we live in

PA:Empics Sport
What a world we live in

The Englishman, who has one Austria Under-20 cap from 2008 to his name, has scored three goals this season and is yet to provide an assist.

Conte’s desperation to sign a target man to play first reserve to Alvaro Morata has led him down a bizarre path.

Perhaps Jose Mourinho’s mind games have clouded his judgement?

With each new transfer target we also get further insight into just how little faith the Italian gaffer has in Michy Batshuayi.

The out-of-favour Belgian forward has a goal and an assist in his last two games for the Blues but incredibly he may find himself behind the likes of Barnes in the pecking order.

A future Stamford Bridge legend

AFP or licensors
A future Stamford Bridge legend

But who are we to question a four-time title-winning manager?

Imagine the commentary in a few months’ time: “Cesc Fabregas slides in Hazard down the left, it’s a first-time pass into Ashley Barnes. Barnes shoots… oh, what a goal!

“It’s the Hazard/Barnes combination again for Chelsea. Such a prolific partnership.

“20 goals for the season in all competitions for Barnes now and what a signing he’s turned out to be.”

If Burnley resist Chelsea’s advances (and they should if they believe in the power of banter) who will Conte turn to next?

What’s Nwankwo Kanu up to these days?

On Conte’s shortlist… probably

PA:Press Association
On Conte’s shortlist… probably

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