Chelsea Transfer News: Blues Must Move Quickly to Land Christian Benteke

Steven CookFeatured Columnist IVJuly 11, 2013

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - APRIL 06:  Christian Benteke of Aston Villa celebrates scoring his team's third goal to make the score 1-3 during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Aston Villa at the Britannia Stadium on April 6, 2013 in Stoke on Trent, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Chelsea have swung and missed on many of their top attacking targets already in this summer's transfer window, and they can't afford to follow that trend as they court Christian Benteke.

According to James Dickenson of the Daily Express, Benteke has formally submitted his transfer request to Aston Villa and three teams—Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham—are reported to be heavily in the runnings for the coveted striker. 

The Aston Villa striker has come into his own as a force in the Premier League with a stellar 2012-13 campaign, scoring 19 goals in his 34 appearances on the season. 

Despite being just 22 years of age, Benteke's big season in the EPL has garnered interest from some perennial title contenders and Chelsea are among his biggest suitors.

New manger Jose Mourinho is in the midst of the arduous task or re-sculpting this squad to have a Mourinho feel, and Chelsea's courting of the young Belgian are only further indications that he's wanted by the "Special One."

However, Mourinho's top options haven't worked out well so far for the Blues this offseason. 

Unquestionably, one of Chelsea's biggest targets for some time was Napoli striker Edinson Cavani. The Uruguay native has since been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, with Charles Perrin of Daily Express reporting the two sides are near reaching a massive deal for the striker. 

Another long-time rumor was Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski, who is reportedly on his way Bayern Munich at the end of next season according to Sky Sports.

Now, Chelsea still may be in the running as potentially one of a few unnamed teams courting Liverpool striker Luis Suarez. But as Dickenson states in this Express report, Suarez isn't set to force his exit and could end up staying at Anfield. 

That inevitably leaves Benteke as one of the best—albeit young and less polished—options left on the market for Mourinho this summer. 

Chelsea should look at Tottenham and Arsenal, their two reported opponents in the Benteke sweepstakes, and realize how crucial it is to get a deal done sooner rather than later.

Spurs are reeling after missing out on David Villa and the Gunners seem to be looking past Gonzalo Higuain. Suddenly, all three of these clubs seem to have gone from having their man (or two of them) to missing out. Now, all three are chasing Aston Villa's goalscorer. 

While the Blues may have hopes and dreams of landing an elite striker to a gaudy price tag and may still have a realistic plan to do so, they have their fair share of competition. Chelsea can always argue to be in that top tier of quality clubs, but they can't always overshadow other elite clubs.

Quality strikers are dropping one by one in this year's transfer cycle, and if Chelsea don't move fast, they won't be able to snatch up any before next season, and Mourinho will be working with Fernando Torres and Demba Ba. And if Chelsea's fierce action in the transfer window is any indication, they're not happy with that front line.

Luckily for Chelsea, Benteke could have the highest upside and raw ability of any striker on the market. That much is uncertain, but we do know the Belgian has a lot of untapped potential, and we won't truly know his ability until he's featured on a world-class club and world-class stadium.

If the Blues want that club to be Chelsea and that stadium to be Stamford Bridge, they'd better move fast.