For a manager firmly of the school of deflecting criticism away from his players in public, Jose Mourinho’s increasingly disparaging comments about the quality of strikers at his disposal has been particularly striking. It’s not clear whether his frustration at their combined lack of goals is simply spilling over or whether it’s a calculated move to ensure Roman Abramovich is spends big on correcting the situation. What is all too apparent is that he has given up on Fernando Torres, Demba Ba, and Samuel Eto’o, and he no longer care who knows.
“I'm not happy with my strikers' performances, so I have to try things,” he said, according to The Guardian, in response to why he selected Andre Schurrle out of position to lead the line in a 3-1 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.
"In the second half we made individual mistakes in areas where, for the whole season, the guys have performed with no problems. They have the right to make the mistakes because we have other players who have made some mistakes all season,” he added in a pointed reference to his strikers.
Having failed to sign Wayne Rooney last summer, the same mistakes will surely not be made again. Here are the four strikers Chelsea are believed to be targeting.
Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)
Costa is now believed to Mourinho’s top choice to fill the void up front and it is easy to see why. This season the Brazilian-born striker, who made his debut for Spain last month, has struck an incredible 33 goals. But it is his overall game that makes him the standout candidate for Chelsea. Mourinho likes his strikers to be aggressive and occupy defenders for the full 90 minutes, as Didier Drogba famously did, and Costa does exactly that. His will to win on the pitch is extraordinary and, as with Mourinho, that desire can manifest itself in both legal and illegal means. Quick, strong and with a ferocious work-rate, Costa will surely be the subject of a major bid from Chelsea this summer.
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Edinson Cavani (Paris Saint-Germain)
Like Costa, Cavani has an unselfishness about his game that has manifested itself in him being willing to play out wide for much of his first season at Paris Saint-Germain. While he hasn’t shown it on the pitch, in a recent interview the Uruguay international expressed that he wasn’t thrilled with having to sacrifice himself for the team. Such comments could renew interest from both Chelsea and Manchester United, who have both been strongly linked. Yet, having only signed for the big-spending French champions for a massive £57 million last summer, it appears highly unlikely that he will move on, not least because it’s hard to think another club, Chelsea included, who could afford him.
Radamel Falcao (Monaco)
Falcao cost even more than Cavani last summer when, despite consistent links with Chelsea, the Colombia international joined Monaco from Atletico Madrid. Given that Chelsea, perhaps due to Financial Fair Play, failed to match Monaco’s spending power then, it’s unlikely that they will be able to do so now, unless a host of players are able to be offloaded. The fact that his first season has been curtailed by a serious knee injury further decreases the chances that a club will be willing to spend big to sign him until he demonstrates that he has fully recovered. The 28-year-old will also have the attraction of Champions League soccer at Monaco next season.
Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich)
The exemplary work rate that the Croatian has demonstrated in leading the line at Bayern Munich for the past two years will certainly have caught the eye of Mourinho. Because of his other attributes, Mandzukic’s goal-scoring pedigree often gets overlooked, yet 17 goals in the Bundesliga this season is a fine return as was his 15 in 24 appearances last term. Still, that hasn’t been enough to prevent Bayern from signing Robert Lewandowski for next season; a move that initially led to much speculation that Mandzukic was unhappy and wanted out at the end of the campaign. Since then, though, Bayern have continually insisted that they expect the 27-year-old to stay and this week revealed that they were offering him a new contract.