Barring an incredible turnaround in the Premier League title race, Jose Mourinho looks set to end up empty handed in his first season back at Stamford Bridge.
There have been some superb performances during the campaign, most notably the wins away at Liverpool and Manchester City, but Chelsea have been unable to establish a level of consistency that’s required to win a major trophy.
They certainly aren’t far off and Mourinho has spoken this week of how he expects the club to make a couple of key signings in the window, per Sky Sports:
Chelsea will be quite calm and quiet during that period. They won't be the noisy team selling and buying, buying and selling. We aren't going to be that kind of club.
We are going to do, I would say, a couple of critical signings. Is a striker a target for us? Yes. Is Diego (Costa) a good player? Yes, he is but he's an Atletico Madrid player so I cannot say much.
Whilst it would a be a little naive to read too much into Mourinho's comments, with only a couple of players likely to be acquired, you'd expect them to be genuine world-class talents.
And the capture of a player of that quality would do so much for the club. It'd give the fans, the player and the staff a huge lift ahead of the next campaign—one in which much more will be expected of this Chelsea team.
This season is one of transition according to Mourinho, per Sky Sports, and as such, there has been little said about the club’s failure to capture a trophy. You suspect those excuses might not wash if Chelsea find themselves in the same position this time next year, though.
Here we run the rule over the latest world-class stars that have been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge, and take a look at how they might fit into Mourinho’s master plan.
French international forward Karim Benzema is a £40 million target for Mourinho according to The Guardian’s Paul Doyle.
The Real Madrid forward is enjoying a strong finish to the campaign at Real Madrid, and has been a key figure in their march toward the Champions League final.
Benzema has grown into a crucial player under the tutelage of Carlo Ancelotti, providing an excellent foil for the raw counter-attacking abilities of both Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. But if he was to make the move to Chelsea, you suspect his role would be a little different.
Mourinho typically likes his forwards to play as target men, and it’s a role that the Frenchman struggled with when Jose was his manager at Real Madrid. Benzema is astute with the ball at his feet, but he prefers to drive forward with the ball instead of play with his back to goal.
Another stumbling block for any potential deal is the dearth of orthodox centre-forwards Real Madrid have on their books. Aside from Benzema and Alvaro Morata, the capital club have no other genuine strikers.
Would they really be willing to sell Benzema in this case? You suspect not, certainly not unless they have a replacement lined up.
Benzema is a fine goalscorer, but expect Mourinho to turn his attentions to a more rounded forward, one with superior work-rate and more rounder game.
That man could be Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa, a player who has really caught the eye throughout this campaign with some excellent displays both in La Liga and the Champions League.
He’s a striker much more better suited to Mourinho’s preferred centre-forward. Costa is wonderfully adept at shrugging off defenders, taking the ball into feet and bringing midfielders into play.
In truth, he’s always had those attributes. But this season, the 25-year-old has added a composure to his game, one that has seen him notch 35 goals in all competitions this season, per WhoScored.com.
Whilst Costa has claimed he is happy at Atletico Madrid, he admitted he is well aware of interest from elsewhere:
Diego Costa on SkyItaly: "Will I play in Chelsea next season? I'm happy here, we'll see. I know that there are some offers" -@GugliCannavale— FutbolBible (@FutbolBible) April 30, 2014
According to Wayne Veysey of Goal.com, Chelsea have already agreed to pay £35 million for the player this summer, but more reports emerging suggest that Arsenal are set to launch a bid that’ll see them rival Chelsea for his signature, per Steve Stammers of the Mirror.
Both clubs are in dire need of a centre-forward, but if it comes down to a straight choice between Stamford Bridge or the Emirates, you imagine Costa would opt for the former.
Who would be the better acquisition?
Mourinho would be looking to use Costa’s imposing somatotype in a manner comparable to Didier Drogba during his Chelsea days. Like the former Chelsea forward, Costa would be hoping Mourinho’s influence would help him take his game to a new level.
Chelsea fans will surely be excited by the prospect of Costa signing with them after witnessing his striking prowess first-hand. Costa was a key figure in Atletico Madrid’s victory in the semi-final of the Champions League, and Blues supporters will be hoping his influence can inspire them to similar feats should he make the move to London next season.