Chelsea's need for a new striker or two this summer is probably up there with the world's worst-kept secrets, with manager Jose Mourinho recently criticising his forward line as not good enough and a host of rumours already linking new players to the club for the summer.
Mourinho says he started Schurrle up front because he is not happy with his strikers' performances, so he has to try things. #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) April 2, 2014
Martin Lipton of Mirror Football reports that Chelsea are willing to offload all of their strikers to bring in new attackers for Mourinho to direct—but that further signings will need to be funded by selling off established first-teamers.
Key attacking midfielders Oscar and Eden Hazard are coveted by some of the game's biggest sides and would certainly bring in plenty of money to spend on new signings, but should Mourinho and Chelsea be looking to offload such important parts of his team to revamp the attack?
Demba Ba. Fernando Torres. Samuel Eto'o.
Once, they might have all—particularly the latter two—struck fear into defenders in the Premier League, but now they are seen as faded lights, still capable of the odd flicker but, by and large, nowhere near the top level required.
45 - Chelsea trio Ba, Torres & Eto'o have mustered 45 PL shots on target between them this season, 25 fewer than Suarez alone. Occasional.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 3, 2014
The Mirror Football article reports that Chelsea will not only offload those three, but also out-on-loan Romelu Lukaku, who has yet to score for the Stamford Bridge side but has proved to be reliable for West Brom and Everton during temporary spells.
Mario Mandzukic and Diego Costa are the two biggest targets for Chelsea according to the report, with both likely to cost far in excess of £20 million.
Are Chelsea really in need of both, though? One as a starter, certainly, and they'll need a second striker to provide cover and competition, but Mourinho has typically fielded one first-choice centre-forward whenever possible, only rotating for minor cup competitions or substitutions late in games.
He is not the kind to bring through a young forward over a period of a few seasons, so a robust, reliable and athletic second-choice striker seems the logical extra addition to Diego Costa—who, let's face it, seems the favourite and obvious selection—rather than having Mandzukic, or someone else, sit on the bench for 25 games a season or so.
No surprise that Chelsea want Diego Costa. Total Mourinho style player.— Daniel Colasimone (@ArgentinaFW) March 31, 2014
Chelsea will sell David Luiz this summer in order to raise funds to sign Atlético Madrid striker Diego Costa. (Source: Daily Mirror)— Transfer News Live (@DeadlineDayLive) April 1, 2014
Express Sport understands Chelsea have begun negotiations over a £35million move for Atletico Madrid hitman Diego Costa.— FootballIzLife (@SuzanEdenLuiz) March 31, 2014
It is possible that Chelsea won't recoup funds by selling their three main strikers. Torres will not command a large fee, and his club may have to pay off easily in the region of £10-12 million to him if he takes a drop in wages on a deal which has two years more yet to run. Ba will bring in a small fee, but Eto'o likely will not.
Lipton's report says David Luiz is rumoured to be on the sale list, perhaps bringing in around £25-30 million, which would cover almost the entire cost of one of Mourinho's first-choice strikers.
Additional potential departures for Ashley Cole, Hilario, Jon Obi Mikel, Victor Moses and Thibaut Courtois will also either lower the wage bill or bring in significant funds.
There are several avenues for Mourinho to explore in this regard without turning toward one of his key attacking starters as a means to raise funds.
Refresh, Not Restructure
What Chelsea need next season—aside from a top striker, of course—is for Mourinho to quickly determine which of his attacking assets will play a significant part in his plans.
Willian, Andre Schurrle, Mo Salah and Marco van Ginkel are all vying, essentially, for one place alongside Oscar and Hazard, as well as providing cover for them. Lucas Piazon and Marko Marin are two more who are out on loan, presumably with the latter set for a permanent deal away.
Ramires provides further attacking cover from midfield.
Mourinho could certainly afford to jettison one if he needed additional funds—for a replacement for Ashley Cole, for example—without looking to touch his two main creative outlets.
Chelsea need a spearhead for the attack, a man to make the most of the chances created by those behind him and to actually provide a killer touch in the penalty area, not to begin to reshape the entire attack. Lose Hazard in particular and they'll need not only a top forward, but also another top wide man to replace the 87 chances the Belgian has created this term.
Losing Hazard would be far more expensive to Chelsea than the cost of buying a pair of new forwards.