It’s almost hard to believe that we haven’t seen Jose Mourinho holding a trophy aloft this season, but that’s the reality.
Chelsea reached the fifth round of the FA Cup, the quarter-finals of the League Cup, the semi-finals of the Champions League and played their part in the Premier League title race until the very end, but they came away empty handed.
That’s not to say that Mourinho’s tactical expertise failed him throughout the campaign—the very opposite, in fact—but his side just didn’t have enough to cross a few finish lines.
What it does mean, though, is that the Portuguese manager will come back next season even thirstier for glory, but he’ll need to add to his already talented squad if he’s to fulfil the club’s lofty ambitions next time around.
If you take 100 Chelsea fans and ask them where their squad needs improvement, the majority of them will tell you that their weakness is up front.
For a club with a decorated recent history and eyes for domestic glory in every campaign, that total simply isn’t good enough—particularly for three strikers that have demonstrated their ability to notch 20-plus goals in seasons past.
The Spaniard notched 27 goals in 34 appearances for the newly crowned La Liga champions over the course of the season, per WhoScored.com, and he found the net from the penalty spot against Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final second leg.
Top scorers La Liga. 2 games to play. pic.twitter.com/pNE1BjOOma— SocialRMadrid (@SocialRMadrid) May 8, 2014
However, landing Costa alone isn’t enough for the Blues, and they’ve also been linked with Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandzukic, who would likely play second fiddle to Robert Lewandowski at the Allianz Arena next season.
Daniel Harris of The Guardian writes that Mandzukic could form part of the deal that will see David Luiz head to Munich, with the Brazilian finding chances few and far between under Mourinho’s guidance.
Mandzukic is a proven goalscorer at the highest level, chalking up 33 league goals in 54 appearances since signing for Bayern, but quite why he’d be needed at Stamford Bridge with Costa the likely solo striker throughout the campaign is unknown.
Having such a talented player as a back-up wouldn’t cause any team harm. It would be a case very similar to that of Edin Dzeko at Manchester City, who isn’t the first-choice striker at the Etihad, but has taken his chances expertly well when called upon.
Though Chelsea’s midfield is undoubtedly their strongest area, Mourinho may be looking to bolster his squad in the attacking positions with the addition of Hoffenheim’s Brazilian sensation Roberto Firmino, per Daniel Harris of The Guardian.
The 22-year-old’s love for Hoffenheim may stand in Chelsea’s way of acquiring his services. Firmino signed a contract extension in March, and expressed his joy at playing for the club, as reported by Sky Sports:
"I am really excited about being at Hoffenheim 1899. I really like the idea the club is after. We are playing a thrilling way and the team spirit among the squad is just great."
The deal means that Firmino is contracted to remain in Germany until 2017, but for Chelsea that just means parting with a few more pennies to land his signature.
An attacking midfielder by trade with the ability to play as an out-and-out striker, Firmino’s lethal finishing ability is similar to that of Eden Hazard, who was Chelsea’s top scorer in the 2013/14 campaign.
With John Terry signing a contract extension, per BBC Sport, and still looking invincible, the defence does not need any major tweaks, giving Mourinho the license to spend on attacking players this summer.
Costa, Firmino and Mandzukic are all remarkable talents, though it’s difficult to envisage the latter ever playing in the blue of Chelsea with the arrival of Costa imminent.
The signings of the Brazil-born Spaniard and Firmino and their abilities and decisiveness in front of goal could prove the difference for Chelsea during the upcoming campaign.
The Premier League’s top two of Manchester City and Liverpool scored 102 and 101 goals respectively during the 2013/14 campaign; Chelsea's comparatively meagre 71 is arguably the reason why they finished third.
Goals scored: City 102 Liverpool 101 Chelsea 71 Arsenal 68 Clear where the latter pair need to improve...— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) May 11, 2014
If both Costa and Firmino are plying their trade at Stamford Bridge next season, you can bet that the Blues will be hunting down triple-goal figures next term and finally having that crucial edge to pick up some silverware.