Chelsea have made an impressive start to the season, taking 13 points from their first five Premier League games, yet nothing has thus far assuaged the doubts that have been there since the summer: that Chelsea have left themselves vulnerably short up front.
The Champions League winners recruited an enviable selection of attacking midfielders this summer in the form of Eden Hazard, Oscar, Marko Marin and Victor Moses. Already Hazard and Oscar have shown that they can become stars in England, but much of their good work threatens to be undone by the player lining up ahead of them in Chelsea’s formation.
Despite sporadic signs to the contrary, Fernando Torres has still failed come close to rediscovering his devastating best form. And with the only other established option for Roberto Di Matteo being Daniel Sturridge, a player whom the Italian doesn’t appear to fancy and who has spent much of his young career as a wide forward, there are clear concerns for the Blues.
Already there has been talk of a big-name striker arriving in January. Here are the leading candidates:
Already linked to Chelsea during the summer, speculation has gone into overdrive since the Atletico Madrid striker struck a first-half hat-trick against the Blues in the UEFA Super Cup last month. The Sun recently claimed that negotiations are already underway for a £45 million January move.
A deal is feasible given that Falcao would crucially not be cup-tied for the Champions League, while Atletico also have well-established financial problems. The Colombian won’t come cheap, but with 24 goals in his debut La Liga season last term and seven in five games already this campaign, it is an investment Chelsea are unlikely to regret.
Along with Falcao, Edinson Cavani is arguably the finest No.9 in the world currently. Like his fellow-South American, the Uruguayan was also strongly linked with a move to Stamford Bridge in the summer. However, having signed a new five-year contract last month, with a massive €63 million (£50m) release clause, it is difficult to envisage Cavani leaving Napoli anytime soon.
They may not have Champions League soccer this season, but with the Partenopei starting Serie A on fire—unsurprisingly on the back of Cavani’s goals—they may be in for a quick return. That should be enough to keep the 25-year-old in Southern Italy for the foreseeable future.
Perhaps the most attainable January target. A reliable scorer in Li Liga and for Spain, Llorente has less than a year remaining on his contract at Athletic Bilbao and, with the relationship between player and club—and its fans—breaking down, a new deal looks highly unlikely.
While Llorente may wish to reap the financial benefits of leaving on a free transfer next summer, the club may be inclined to accept a cut price deal in January and push the 27-year-old toward an early exit. Juventus are thought to be leading the chase, with Arsenal also said to be interested, but a firm approach from Chelsea could tempt Llorente to move to West London.
The 24-year-old established himself as one of Europe’s leading strikers last season as he struck 24 goals to help Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga title and followed that up with the opening goal in Euro 2012 for co-host Poland.
Having entered the final two years of his contract at the Westfalenstadion, Lewandowski has hinted that he could be tempted by a big move away. Chelsea are reported to be interested, though they may have to wait until next summer to secure the powerful striker.
Chelsea had a £16 million bid rejected for the Germany international in the summer and were said to be prepared to up their bid on the final day of the transfer window had Daniel Sturridge agreed to depart Stamford Bridge. The rising Bayer Leverkusen star has been deployed in a central striking role, but has played most of his soccer for both club and country as a left-sided forward.
He may not be exactly what Chelsea need, but there appears to be a good chance of the Blues reigniting their interest in the highly-rated 21-year-old come the next transfer window.