Three strikers Chelsea should target in January

The Hard Tackle looks at three strikers Chelsea should target in January to fix their goal-scoring woes this season.

At this point, it is hardly a secret: Chelsea have a striker crisis. The Blues were once again the biggest spenders in the summer. This is a record they have maintained in all three transfer windows since the arrival of Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital at the helm, but once again, the funds have not yet translated to results on the field.

It’s been a chastening start to the new campaign for Mauricio Pochettino and Co. The Pensioners have won just three times in their opening 10 matches in the Premier League thus far and currently languish 11th in the table with 12 points.

With a tough run of fixtures against Tottenham, Manchester City, Newcastle, Brighton, and Manchester United on the horizon, it’s unlikely they will shoot up the table anytime soon. Their bluntness in front of goal has once again been their biggest drawback this term, just as it was last term.

Chelsea have scored 13 goals, but seven of those came against newly promoted Burnley and Luton Town. Not to mention, for all of their positive possession play, they have looked very toothless up front and lack a reliable scorer of goals.

With Christopher Nkunku spending the majority of the current season on the sidelines, summer signing Nicolas Jackson has been tasked with spearheading the line thus far this season.

The Senegal international has looked decent in several aspects of his game and has caught the eye with his energy, movement, and clever interplay. However, in a familiar story at Stamford Bridge over recent times, the striker has been found wanting in front of goal in critical moments.

It’s far too early to write the former Villarreal frontman off yet. However, if recent reports are anything to go by, Pochettino has his heart set on signing a new superstar centre-forward in the upcoming transfer window.

Pochettino will be keen to have Nkunku back in the squad. But the 2022–23 Bundesliga top-scorer isn’t expected to return until at least December, after picking up an injury in Chelsea’s pre-season. It’s also worth noting that he isn’t exactly a natural out-and-out striker, while young Armando Broja has struggled for form and fitness.

Pochettino might try and convince the Blues’ free-spending owner Boehly to loosen his purse strings to bring in a reliable scorer in early 2023 and quash their issues in front of goal once and for all.

However, January can be a notoriously difficult window to conduct business, especially for top-tier players with vital roles at their clubs and even more so for centre-forwards on whom teams are reliant for goals. That’s not to say it’s impossible, and Pochettino could have some interesting options to weigh up in the new year.

On that note, The Hard Tackle brings you a list of three strikers Chelsea could sign during the January transfer window.

Victor Osimhen

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Of course, the Chelsea way is to throw money at a problem before giving it time to be fixed. Still, the supporters won’t mind another big name coming in next year. As such, it is paramount that Chelsea sign a top-class striker, and the first pick on our three-man list needs no introduction.

The lanky but energetic Nigerian striker has established himself as one of Europe’s most prolific and complete No. 9s, and he has scored an impressive five goals in seven appearances this season.

Osimhen played a major role in Napoli’s success last term, as he hit an incredible 26 league goals last year as the Naples-based club lifted Serie A after over three decades while also helping them reach the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League.

His terrific performance in front of goal in the previous campaign won him the Capocannoniere. He was also named among the 2023 FIFA Best and Ballon d’Or nominees.

However, truly mind-boggling social media posts on the club’s accounts have cast a shadow over his future in Naples. Osimhen recently released a statement that reaffirmed his loyalty to Napoli. However, a transfer that once looked impossible may now be possible.

Chelsea are long-term admirers of the 24-year-old. Pochettino is thought to be a big fan of Osimhen and was keen on luring him to Stamford Bridge over the summer, but given Napoli’s unwillingness to sell for anything less than a huge price, the transfer was unfeasible. The Nigerian marksman is once again at the top of the Blues’ wishlist ahead of the January transfer window.

Not only is Osimhen a good finisher, his presence in the final third is impeccable. His ability to bully opposing defenders and his hold-up play suggests that he is the type of striker who would fit in at Stamford Bridge. The likes of Diego Costa and Didier Drogba thrived at the club with a similar bustling and fiery style of play.

There’s no doubt that Osimhen could transform the club’s misfortunes in front of goal, but there are no shortage of roadblocks in Chelsea’s pursuit. As per a recent Calciomercato report, the Italian giants are currently in talks over a contract extension, with his current one running out in the summer of 2025.

The player is hoping to see his salary double from €4.5 million per year to €9 million. The report adds that this shouldn’t be an issue, but there has been a dispute over a potential release clause.

It’s understood that Napoli want to insert a release clause at “more than €200 million,”, which would be quite an obstacle for even Chelsea, who have Financial Fair Play constraints after big spending in recent times. In any case, the Blues will have to raise above £80 million from the sales of fringe stars, including Marc Cucurella, Romelu Lukaku, Malang Sarr, and Trevoh Chalobah.

Osimhen’s potential availability may also prompt competition from Liverpool, Arsenal, and Real Madrid, while Newcastle United could emerge as a shock suitors for the striker. Furthermore, without Champions League qualification, any bid to sign him proved difficult.

Ivan Toney

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Another name high on Chelsea’s wishlist, and probably a less expensive option would be Brentford’s Ivan Toney, who is serving an eight-month ban for breaching the Football Association’s gambling rules 232 times. He was only allowed to return to training at Brentford last month and cannot play again until mid-January.

Alongside a return to match action, January could also see Toney become the subject of a transfer battle as Chelsea faces competition from their two London rivals Spurs and Arsenal.

Brentford would prefer to keep Toney, but manager Thomas Frank has already admitted the club will allow him to leave if a suitable offer arrives. So, it is conceivable that his next appearance could come for a new club, especially given Toney has already flirted with the prospect of signing for top guns in an interview on the “Diary of a CEO” podcast.

At 27 years old, Toney doesn’t fit the age profile of a recruitment strategy that has overwhelmingly focused on hoovering uprising young talent aged 23 or younger as they sought to reshape it to have a much leaner profile. But given the fact that the England international would likely be an integral piece of Pochettino’s jigsaw, they could benefit by making an exception.

Aside from the obvious of being a proven Premier League goal-scorer over a long period of time and his almost impeccable penalty record, there are other key areas where Toney would add something different than Chelsea’s other current striking options.

Toney has been really effective at linking up with the likes of Bryan Mbeumo at Brentford, and he could also work effectively to provide chances for the likes of Jackson, Mykhaylo Mudryk, Nkunku and Raheem Sterling in attack at Stamford Bridge.

The England international has also shown his superior aerial ability, which could prove to be a useful weapon in open play and from set pieces too. He is a striker who was born to be the focal point of an attack and with chances supplied from wide areas by the likes of Ben Chilwell and Reece James, you would back him to take full advantage at Chelsea.

The former Newcastle United striker has also shown his defensive capabilities and work-rate for Brentford too with his impeccable interception, ball recoveries, and clearance numbers, which would fit in very well in Pochettino’s front-foot high-press style.

Indeed, we’ll have to wait and see how he recovers from a disappointing period in his career, but that’s not something new to him, having had to come through the lower leagues after being deemed not good enough by Newcastle.

If anything, he will be even more hungry now that he has a lot to prove and some time to make up for. With all that in mind, Chelsea wouldn’t simply be getting a goalscorer if they did bring Toney in.

Chelsea’s London rivals Arsenal are also keen admirers of the 27-year-old, but the West London club should be favourites considering the fact that they can guarantee Toney a place in the starting XI and more game time, with European Championships just around the corner.

Santiago Gimenez

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Santiago Gimenez has recently emerged as one of the best young strikers in the world and is currently being pursued by a number of top clubs, one of them being Tottenham Hotspur.

The Mexico international, who is the son of Cruz Azul and Mexico national team legend Christian Gimenez, arrived at Feyenoord from Cruz Azul in 2022 and hit 15 Eredivisie goals last season as the Rotterdam-based club claimed only their second Dutch title this century.

And he has picked up right where he left off. In fact, he has taken things a few levels up. He is almost impossible to ignore this season, having smashed 15 goals in just 11 games this season, most recently grabbing a brace in an authoritative 3-1 win against Lazio in the Champions League last Wednesday night, making himself a wanted man around Europe.

Gimenez looks primed for a big move away from the Eredivisie after emerging as one of the hottest emerging forwards in Europe. Rather than lose him after one year, though, his current club managed to extend his contract until 2027 back in August.

Nevertheless, they will be bracing themselves for interest in his services again in 2024 after his impressive goal-scoring numbers have brought significant attention on Gimenez.

The Feyenoord striker also has all the attributes to be a top Premier League striker and excels being played in behind thanks to his dynamic movement and excellent understanding of where to exploit space with his impeccably timed runs.

The striker is not the fastest and appears lanky in motion, but he has just enough acceleration from a standstill position to generate space, and he can create his own shooting angles through ball manipulation or body feints, meaning he is not over-reliant on service.

He could definitely fit the role of target-man at Chelsea, with his aerial prowess, shielding ability, unselfish nature and link-up potential. He could be a genuine upgrade on inconsistent Jackson, and Broja.

Having said that, Feyenoord are reluctant seller and may put up a prohibitive asking price to avoid losing him midway through the season. 90min recently reported suitors will have to stump up an Eredivisie-record sum in order to sign Gimenez, which currently stands at the £87m (€100m) fee paid by Manchester United for Antony.

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