5 Strikers Jose Mourinho Should Target for Chelsea This Summer

Daniel TilukFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2014

5 Strikers Jose Mourinho Should Target for Chelsea This Summer

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    Jose Mourinho's on the lookout this summer.
    Jose Mourinho's on the lookout this summer.Michael Regan/Getty Images

    It's been four years since a Chelsea player scored over 15 goals in the Premier League. 

    Blues legends Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard netted 29 and 22 goals respectively in the 2009-10 campaign. Chelsea won the league double that year—winning the FA Cup and setting the Premier League's goals-in-a-season record (103) in route to their last top-flight conquest.

    Though the run may be ending this season, as Eden Hazard's logged 12 goals with 10 games left, strikers Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba are nowhere close to 15.

    The trio have a collective 11 goals this Premier League campaign—simply not good enough for a club with Chelsea’s aspirations. Especially considering Liverpool's Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have a combined 42 goals.

    What then should Jose Mourinho do about this lack of striking productivity?

    Romelu Lukaku should be back in the fold, but Wayne Rooney's no longer an option, neither Robert Lewandowski—so who can help spur the Blues on to continued success?

    The deep pockets of Roman Abramovich make any transfer possible, but as Chelsea are attempting to comply with UEFA's Financial Fair Play, the Russian billionaire is rather handcuffed.

    The list of potential striking targets is massive; there are many viable options from which to choose. This list is based on: Rumoured links, health, compatibility, age and monetary consequence.

Honourable Mention: Radamel Falcao

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    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    Age: 28 (Birth Date: 10 February 1986)

    Club: AS Monaco FC (France)

    2013-14 Games Played: 19

    2013-14 Goals (Assists): 11(2)

    Current Market Value: £53 million (via TransferMarkt)

    Nothing has been able to quiet the "Radamel Falcao to Chelsea" chatter, not even an ACL tear.

    Jose Mourinho added to the rumour last month; The Independent's Jack de Menezes lent context to the Portuguese's comments:

    Speaking to French TV channel Canal Football Club, Mourinho said in French: 'I have a team, but no striker. Falcao does not have a team. A player like him can't play in front of 3,000 people. Monaco is a club to end [your career with].'

    Is this Mourinho merely speaking the truth or is it slightly more devious? It's hard to tell with the Chelsea boss.

    When the Columbian is fit, he's simply prolific. Since joining FC Porto in 2009, Falcao's scored 153 goals in 197 matches—a games-to-goals ratio besting Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robin van Persie and Robert Lewandowski over the same time span.

    Had Chelsea stuck their claws into Falcao a season or two ago, the £53 million might well have been worth it—but not now.

    AS Monaco will look to profit from their 2013 summer business. The Mirror's Alan Nixon suggests £60 million would be the magic number—insanity considering Falcao's age and severity of injury.

    If he plays in the World Cup, and performs to the best of his abilities, Chelsea should revisit the idea, but there are other players who don't have as many question marks who cost a helluva lot less.

Honourable Mention: Alexandre Pato

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Age: 24 (Birth Date: 2 September 1989)

    Club: SC Corinthians Paulista, on loan to FC Sao Paulo (Brazil)

    2013-14 Games Played: Corinthians: 1 | Sao Paulo: 0

    2013-14 Goals (Assists): 0(0)

    Current Market Value: £10.5 million (via TransferMarkt)

    The former AC Milan forward is currently playing in his native country Brazil. One can presume to be closer to home, and/or to gain attention for Selecao's World Cup roster. In either event, it hasn't quite worked out for Pato.

    After some controversy with Corinthians supporters, the Brazilian international was traded to Sao Paulo last month (yet is still under contract with Corinthians).

    Pato has voiced his appreciation for Chelsea in the past, and being just 24 years of age, the striker might serve a value buy for Roman Abramovich. The added benefit being he wouldn't serve an insurmountable challenge to Romelu Lukaku, and could motivate Fernando Torres.

    A move to London might revive his career looking forward to the 2018 World Cup, should he miss the final of this year's tournament.

    With David Luiz, Oscar, Ramires and Willian already playing at Stamford Bridge, you'd think the Brazilian quartet would make Pato feel more at home—should his problem with Europe be distance.

5. Stephan El Shaarawy

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    Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

    Age: 21 (Birth Date: 27 October 1992)

    Club: AC Milan (Italy)

    2013-14 Games Played: 7

    2013-14 Goals (Assists): 1(0)

    Current Market Value: £22 million (via TransferMarkt)

    Before you start—yeah, he's mostly a winger; but one could argue at 21 years old, Stephan El Shaarawy's just an attacker; should he be refined and cultivated, he could easily play up front.

    In reality, Chelsea don't need another Didier Drogba-type forward—they have Romelu Lukaku. The opposite of the brute, direct style of the Chelsea legend and Belgian international would be El Shaarawy.

    The biggest question surrounding the young Italian is his foot. Injuries of the sort can be persistent if not handled properly; Chelsea would need to be wary of signing a player with such issues. Though, should he be healthy, El Shaarawy would prove to be an expert signing.

    Chelsea might be better without a defined "No. 9." Andre Schurrle against Fulham over the weekend serves as evidence. El Shaarawy could effortlessly connect with Eden Hazard, Oscar and whoever plays on the right.

    Instead of paying upwards of £40 million for a focal point, the first option Mourinho has is riding the wave. Allow the attacking midfield to carry the scoring burden by giving them a partner, rather than a "target man."

    With Hazard at 23, Oscar at 22 and El Shaarawy at 21 years of age, it might seem crazy, but it just might work.

    *For the more usual, expensive and conventional option—next slide.

4. Edinson Cavani

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Age: 27 (Birth Date: 14 February 1987)

    Club: Paris Saint-Germain FC (France)

    2013-14 Games Played: 31

    2013-14 Goals (Assists): 21(5)

    Current Market Value: £53 million (via TransferMarkt)

    The second player mentioned worth an estimated £53 million, Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani has been linked with Chelsea over the past few months, if not the past year.

    Purchased from Napoli for an estimated £55 million in July, per BBC Sport, PSG will certainly look to recoup their money after just one season. The Daily Mail's Simon Jones and Chris Wheeler have reported the sum would be in the region of £54 million.

    Per ESPN FC, Cavani is thought to be frustrated in Paris—as the impregnable Zlatan Ibrahimovic is Laurent Blanc's primary option at the Parc des Princes. Even still, the Uruguayan has amassed 21 goals this season.

    From a Chelsea perspective, Cavani's work rate is exactly what Jose Mourinho wants in his attacking options. His desire to hassle and chase the ball is comparable to his international teammate Luis Suarez.

    Were the Blues a more developed product and Financial Fair Play was not an issue, the transfer might make sense, but the suggested £54 million seems a hefty price tag for a 27-year-old forward nearing the end of his prime.

    Then again—albeit under different circumstances—Roman Abramovich paid £50 million for a 26-year-old Fernando Torres in 2011, so anything's possible in west London.

    *For the more retroactive, embarrassing and ignominious option—next slide.

3. Daniel Sturridge

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    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Age: 24 (Birth Date: 1 September 1989)

    Club: Liverpool FC (England)

    2013-14 Games Played: 23

    2013-14 Goals (Assists): 21(6)

    Current Market Value: £17.5 million (via TransferMarkt)

    Of all the strikers on this list, Daniel Sturridge is the hottest.

    Since his transfer 14 months ago, Sturridge has scored 28 goals in 33 Premier League games. Numbers made all the more impressive considering the prolific Luis Suarez plays along side him.

    Christian Bailey of CaughtOffside.com has posed a rescue mission costing £32 million, could be in the cards come the summer.

    By "Matic math," Roman Abramovich is willing to spend seven times an amount received to reacquire a former player. Sturridge was sold for an undisclosed fee, thought to be in the region £12 million, per The Independent's Simon Rice. So unless Liverpool appraise the England international at over £84 million, the Blues should have a shot.

    The issues with the prospective transfer are twofold.

    First, Liverpool look to be on pace for the 2014-15 Champions League, so there really isn't a reason to jump ship if you're Sturridge.

    Second, and most importantly, did Sturridge feel disrespected by Chelsea during his time at Stamford Bridge? Chelsea had the right idea acquiring the forward from Manchester City in 2009, but they never quite learned how to utilise him.

    The likes of Nicolas Anelka, Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres stifled his Chelsea career and a move was always in his cards—so it's possible Sturridge doesn't want to return. Most Chelsea supporters will tell you he never should have left in the first place.

    [Aside] Is it possible Rafa Benitez was a mole? Recruited by Liverpool to acquire Sturridge? He won the Europa League to cover his tracks, then vanished to Naples leaving Demba Ba and Fernando Torres as the only viable striking options.

    An investigation must be launched.

    *For the more sensible, likely and Mourinho-esque option—next slide.

2. Diego Costa

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    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    Age: 25 (Birth Date: 7 October 1988)

    Club: Atletico Madrid (Spain)

    2013-14 Games Played: 37

    2013-14 Goals (Assists): 27(5)

    Current Market Value: £26.5 million (via TransferMarkt)

    In a suspect recording released last week, Jose Mourinho joked: "I have [Samuel] Eto'o, but he is 32 years old, maybe 35, who knows," as quoted by Canal Plus (via ESPN FC).

    Well, if rumours of Diego Costa's tentative transfer are valid, Mourinho should request a birth certificate from the 25-year-old forthwith—he has the face of a 58-year-old war veteran.

    The Daily Mail's Charlie Skillen reported in January that Atletico Madrid and Chelsea had supposedly reached a deal that would see the Brazilian-born, Spanish international make his way to Stamford Bridge.

    It seems that deal was either announced prematurely or was incorrect (a symptom of the 24-hour news cycle), as there have been reports of varying complexity since.

    Metro's Jamie Sanderson suggests Fernando Torres may be offered as a makeweight, returning to his boyhood club Atletico, with the London side collecting Costa in return.

    Per The Telegraph's Matt Law, Atletico Madrid has told Chelsea, and all other prospective Costa suitors, their talisman is not to be swapped. Should a team want him, Costa's £32 million buy-out clause will have to be triggered for Atletico to budge.

    Basically, nobody knows anything. Not even Mourinho, possibly not even Costa.

    So what can be determined? When compared to the likely price tags of Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani, £32 million for a 25-year-old Spanish international seems a bargain.

    Costa's skill set is similar to that of Romelu Lukaku's, so one wonders what the Belgian's fate might be should Costa be London bound.

    In any event, Mourinho wouldn't see that problem as a nightmare, more a fantasy.

    *For the more idiosyncratic, diabolical and cardiac-arrest-inducing option—next slide.

1. Mario Balotelli

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    Claudio Villa/Getty Images

    Age: 23 (Birth Date: 12 August 1990)

    Club: AC Milan (Italy)

    2013-14 Games Played: 28

    2013-14 Goals (Assists): 14(5)

    Current Market Value: £26.5 million (via TransferMarkt)

    As the second-youngest player on this list—and possessing the most upside—should Mario Balotelli become available this summer, rejecting the notion of a Jose Mourinho reunion in London would be foolhearted.

    Responsible for 19 AC Milan goals this season, which haven't come at a premium, Balotelli's having a great season in Italy despite his team's struggles, capped by an amazing wonder goal against Bologna last month.

    Per Goal's Mark Doyle, newly installed Milan boss Clarence Seedorf favours Giampaolo Pazzini as his primary striking option—possibly opening the door for a Balotelli exit.

    The idea of Super Mario in the Chelsea dressing room puts some Blues supporters off, but in all honesty, a heavenly dressing room with no goals is pointless. If you want goals from a striker, which Balotelli is more than capable of providing, you have to take his antics in stride.

    Does Balo suffer from the occasional rush of blood to the head? Yes. But if you'll travel back in time, you may remember Didier Drogba slapping Nemanja Vidic in the 2008 Champions League final, and using profanity in response to a preponderance of controversial refereeing decisions (or lack thereof) in 2009.

    Even still, the Ivorian's considered, arguably, the greatest Chelsea player of all time.

    Simon Mullock of the Mirror credits Balotelli with saying:

    Of course I would like to play under Jose again.

    In my first days at Inter we had some problems, but then it turned into a mutual respect, and now we have a real friendship.

    It is never boring playing under Jose. When you are in Mourinho’s team it is a family, and he coaches on the principle that if all is well with the family it doesn’t matter what is going on outside the team.

    Some team's going to hit the jackpot if and when Balotelli figures himself out, why not Chelsea? Whatever your opinion of the man, he's a fine prospect and is at the right age, 23, to fit with Chelsea's budding enterprise.

    If any football club in the world is primed to deal with Balotelli, it's one owned by Roman Abramovich, managed by Mourinho and captained by John Terry—controversy's nothing new to that lot.

Comments Section: Who Ya Got?

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    Angel Martinez/Getty Images

    Jose Mourinho is always scribbling in his notepad on the touchline, consider the comment section your notepad.

    Who should Chelsea target in the summer?

    What should Mourinho do with Lukaku, Ba, Eto'o and/or Torres?

    Is it too soon for Lucas Piazon to get a look in the Chelsea first team?

    How much money is too much for a striker in 2014?