Rarely have we seen a top team so desperately in need of a centre-forward as Chelsea right now.
Alvaro Morata’s confidence is rapidly approaching the earth’s core, Olivier Giroud has his limitations, and Eden Hazard is NOT A STRIKER!
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Speculation about the Blues’ transfer activity is rife as Maurizio Sarri seeks a solution to his most obvious problem.
Step forward, the candidates…
1 Karim Benzema
The last thing Morata needs is to be replaced by the man who kept him on the bench at Real Madrid.
At his peak, Benzema excelled at linking with the wide forwards either side of him – Cristiano Ronaldo owes him plenty of gratitude – something Hazard would greatly appreciate.
The Frenchman also has an impressive goal record, though his strike rate has dropped off in the last couple of years.
It might just be the club’s recent history of signings in this department that gives us a bad feeling about this one, but Benzema to Chelsea just screams five goals in 22 games to us.
2 Callum Wilson
The gossip columns rank Wilson among the favourites to take up residence at Stamford Bridge this month.
It’s only January and already the Bournemouth forward is enjoying his best ever Premier League season in terms of goals.
The Cherries forward has bagged nine goals from 16 games this campaign, earning an overdue England call-up in the process.
However, two significant knee injuries have hindered his career and Chelsea may be reluctant to fork out a sizeable fee on a player likely to break down.
Unlike most the other front-runners, he has age on his side — Wilson turns 27 next month.
3 Marko Arnautovic
The temperamental Austrian may have had his head turned by Chinese Super League cash but perhaps a move across London would suit him better?
Arnautovic is capable of replicating Diego Costa’s bullish sh*thousery — he’s similarly unpleasant to mark due to his physicality.
The Hammers forward has a good goals-per-90mins rate since being converted to an out-and-out centre-forward.
He may not be a ‘superstar stiker’ but he knows the league and could provide the quick fix if Chelsea are as desperate as some suggest.
4 Edinson Cavani
We’ve reached ‘stuff of fantasy’ territory here.
Cavani may not be the most clinical finisher around but his movement is virtually unmatched, meaning he’s in the right position more often than not.
Few strikers boast a goal record on par with the Uruguayan international.
He’s scored at least 25 goals in all competitions in each of his last eight seasons, hoarding 102 goals since the start of the 2016/17 season.
Some may think his sharpness has been dulled by five and a half years in Ligue 1, but his record in Europe and at international level in that time is proof of a world-class goalscorer.
5 Dries Mertens
Sarri converting a diminutive Belgian winger into a centre-forward… sounds familiar.
Long before Hazard was given the task of playing as a No9, Mertens proved such a transition can produce spectacular results.
The ex-PSV winger scored 28 league goals for Sarri’s Napoli in 2016/17 after reinventing himself as a centre-forward.
Mertens hasn’t looked back since, scoring 67 goals in 119 games at club level since changing role.
Rather than trying to replicate the results with Hazard, why doesn’t Sarri just recruit his old favourite?
6 Gonzalo Higuain
Along with Wilson, this is the transfer the tabloids are most keen on.
Higuain was an unstoppable goalscoring machine under Sarri in 2015/16 — the Argentinian poacher broke Serie A’s all-time record having racked up 36 goals from 35 games.
Like Cavani, he boasts an impressive record, though many fans are concerned about his reputation as a bottler in high-pressure situations.
There are also suggestions the 31-year-old may be past his best and too sluggish for the intensity of the Premier League.
7 Mauro Icardi
Chelsea have not been crying out for any old striker, they’ve been in desperate need of a specific mould of striker — specifically, a fox in the box.
And they don’t come much foxier than Inter’s captain.
Icardi cares not for the modern trend of false 9 link-up play, he’s in the team to provide the finishing touch.
The 25-year-old is happy to go missing for 80 minutes, it won’t deter him from playing on the shoulder of the last defender, anticipating a half-chance at any moment.
And with 68 goals from his last 99 games for Inter, it’s an approach with obvious benefits.
Too often Chelsea have lacked a presence in the box this season — Icardi would provide a constant target for Hazard, Willian, Pedro and co to aim for.
In our opinion, he’s the best possible option for Chelsea at this stage.
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