Top 7: Attacking Options for Chelsea in January
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Juan Mata played a decent through-ball for Fernando Torres to run on to, but he was matched for pace by none other than The Hammers' clumpy centre-half James Collins.
Probably through no fault of his own, the Spaniard is not performing and that is despite the conditions being made perfect for him to succeed at Stamford Bridge.
With £15 million Daniel Sturridge injured and attracting interest from Liverpool, and Romelu Lukaku on loan at West Brom, Rafael Benitez will certainly want to add to his squad when the transfer window opens in the New Year.
But there is a more astute recruitment policy going on at Stamford Bridge than meets the eye and Chelsea fans ought not to simply expect big-name, big-money signings.
Players like Radamel Falcao or Edison Cavani are not easy to acquire and might not be the right solutions to the Blues' problems, and Roman Abramovich can ill-afford another big-money flop.
Many experts believe Torres will be first-choice striker for the rest of the season, as Tony Banks writes in The Express:
“The aim at the moment is to buy to support Torres, with Abramovich still backing his £50 million striker.”
Rafa Benitez will still have a significant war chest to delve into in January, though, so which young starlets can we expect to see house hunting in West London in the New Year?
REALISITIC: Taison Freda
Taison in action for Metalist
Brazilian attacking midfielder Taison watched Chelsea’s turgid 0-0 draw with Fulham from the stands last week, and if he still wants to join the Blues after that display, he will surely be welcomed with open arms by the fans.
The 24-year-old, who is reportedly friends with Oscar, currently plays for Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv.
He can play on the flank in a support role or as a striker, and he is thought to be gettable for a nominal £10 million (that is not much these days).
His goal-scoring record is not excessively impressive at Metalist, but he has netted in roughly a third of the games he has played for the club since joining from Internacional in 2010.
REALISTIC: Andre Schurrle
Andre Schurrle could be at the Bridge by the end of January
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Bayer Leverkusen attacker Andre Schurrle has been watched by Chelsea a lot this season, and Blues scouts reportedly stepped up their interest in November.
The 22-year-old German international is not exactly Didier Drogba, but he is a versatile attacking player with the ability to play in a number of positions.
Leverkusen manager Sami Hyypia has deployed him up front as the second striker, on the wing and as an attacking midfielder.
He would probably carry a heavier price tag than a relative unknown like Taison, but he has youth on his side and might be a worthwhile investment.
Leverkusen are thought to want £28.5 million for Schurrle, but according to The Express newspaper, he is unlikely to move until the summer.
His father, Joachim Schurrle, is quoted as saying:
"Until next summer, there is no reason to move. Moving clubs before the summer is not an issue. Andre very much likes being at Bayer Leverkusen."
Willian battles with Blues midfielder and fellow countryman Oscar
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Shakhtar Donetsk winger Willian has been attracting interest from the Chelsea recruitment team, led by Michael Emanalo, for at least a year and a half, but despite speculation reaching fever pitch, his move to Stamford Bridge has never quite come to fruition.
It is well documented that Andre Villas-Boas was interested in signing the 24-year-old Brazilian in the summer of 2011 and, now as Spurs boss, is still desperate to acquire the services of the pacy winger.
According to reports, Shakhtar rejected a £16 million-plus bid last January from Chelsea amid claims they are looking for nearer £30 million, but the West Londoners were undeterred.
In February 2012, the Daily Mail reported:
“Chelsea will seal Willian deal in the summer, claim rivals for playmaker’s signature.”
That did not happen either.
Roberto Di Matteo’s Blues team were exposed to the talents of Willian in the Champions League group stages when he scored two in the Blues’ 3-2 home win.
He plays on the left wing for Shakhtar and has an almost implausible calmness in front of goal. On current form, he would certainly keep Eden Hazard out of the starting XI.
However, Willian has most recently been quoted by Sky Sports as saying:
“My club and my representatives will decide my future. I'm focused on helping Shakhtar to keep making history in the Champions League."
And is there room for another left-footed playmaking flank player in Rafael Benitez’ squad?
REALISTIC: Loic Remy
Remy competes for possession
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According to the Daily Mail newspaper, Roberto Di Matteo sent a scout to watch Marseille striker Loic Remy back in October.
Chelsea have been linked with the Frenchman in the past, but the rumours had gone cold until reports of the dispatched scout started to emerge.
Remy puts himself about and was on target 15 times in Ligue 1 for Les Phoceens last season.
He scored 20 in all competitions and had decent assist stats, too.
However, he is not making the starting XI all that often for Marseille this season and has only netted three times.
The 25-year-old France international is thought to be valued at around £15 million, so if Daniel Sturridge does leave in January, the acquisition of Loic Remy would mean spending nothing.
If Romelu Lukaku is staying at West Brom, as Rafael Benitez signaled at his pre-Nordsjaelland press conference, then purchasing a striker like Remy would be a good move for a Chelsea team in need of a target man.
UNREALISTIC: Edison Cavani
Cavani celebrates after scoring for Napoli
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With a release clause in his contract big enough to make your eyes water, Edison Cavani is probably less gettable than the likes of Taison Freda, Andre Schurrle and Loic Remy.
But even before the word “Falcao” was uttered in the same sentence as “Chelsea,” there was talk that the Uruguayan might be on his way to Stamford Bridge.
At the end of August, The Metro reported:
“Low level talks between Chelsea and Napoli have already taken place for Cavani.”
And it is easy to see why Rafael Benitez would want to acquire the striker’s services in January.
The Napoli ace has already scored 16 in all competitions this season, meaning he is set to better last year’s total of 29.
However, Cavani signed a new five-year deal with the southern Italian club in August and there is believed to be a 60 million-euro release clause in his contract.
Given the £50 million flop Fernando Torres has turned out to be, Roman Abramovich will surely be reluctant to fork out for the 25-year-old.
Cavani usually plays as the central player in the front three of a 4-3-3 formation, which means he would not suit the “support Torres” vacancy Chelsea’s billionaire owner is reportedly looking to fill.
REALISTIC(ISH): Radamel Falcao
Falcao battles with Real Madrid defender Pepe during the Madrid derby
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Chelsea have been after Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao for quite some time but, according to reports, the Blues stepped up their efforts to bring him to West London after they won the Champions League.
In May this year, The Mail newspaper reported:
"Chelsea are ready to put £50 million-rated Radamel Falcao at the top of their wishlist to replace Didier Drogba."
They did not sign El Tigre [The Tiger] in the summer though.
There were rumours that Atletico offered the Colombian to Chelsea shortly before he scored a hat-trick against them in the UEFA Super Cup final, but they were never confirmed and Falcao remains an Atletico player.
Chelsea sent scouts to watch the Atletico No. 9 in action against Real Madrid last weekend and he failed to impress during the 2-0 defeat.
The 26-year-old has not scored from open play for more than a month, but that is not to say the interest in the striker is not justified.
He scored 39 in all competitions last season and he has already netted 14 times this year.
El Tigre is robust, good in the air and an exquisite finisher, bettered in recent times only by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
But Radamel Falcao would not come cheap, and the release clause in his contract could see Roman Abramovich reaching into his pockets for £48 million, if he wants to bring him to Stamford Bridge.
After the failure of £50 million man Fernando Torres, the club's billionaire owner could not be blamed for being hesitant about spending such huge sums of money on a frontman.
UNREALISTIC: Luis Suarez
Suarez rues a miss for Liverpool
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Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has kept the Reds afloat this season, almost entirely by himself.
His goal-scoring prowess (13 in all competitions this season) has secured Brendan Rodgers' side at least five points.
Without those five points, Liverpool would be in 15th place in the Premier League instead of 11th.
The 25-year-old Uruguayan can create chances and finish them without the need to rely on service from the midfield.
How often this season have Chelsea cried out for a striker with a bit of flare, a player capable of scoring wondergoals in tight games?
Even in the humiliating 3-1 defeat to West Ham, the Blues had chances to kill the game off in the first half but the finishing was poor, as it has been so often.
A player like Suarez would arguably have won that game for Rafael Benitez' side as a second goal in the first-half would have prevented the Hammers' second-half resurgence.
Suarez would not come cheap but, according to reports, he may cost less than one might expect.
The Mirror newspaper quoted the Sunday People as reporting:
"Luis Suarez could be snapped up for £40 million at the end of the season – after it emerged the striker has a release clause in his contract."
A £40 million bid with Daniel Sturridge thrown in as a deal sweetener does not seem too far-fetched, and Chelsea's wealthy owner does apparently want Suarez to move down south. On Nov. 17, The Mirror claimed:
"Roman Abramovich has dreams of linking the Liverpool striker with Radamel Falcao."
That really would be a South American dream team, but Chelsea fans can dream on if they think it is going to happen.