Chelsea Transfer News: Fernando Torres Race Hots Up, Latest on Romelu Lukaku

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistJuly 23, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 30:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea in action during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg match between Chelsea and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stamford Bridge on April 30, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Fernando Torres is reportedly the subject of interest for Atletico Madrid and Monaco, as the race to sign Chelsea's faltering striker begins to ignite.

The Spanish international has struggled to capture anything near his best form since moving to west London in 2011. His notorious £50 million fee could be significantly cut by his former club Atletico, which are eyeing a replacement for Diego Costa.

Simon Jones of the Daily Mail reveals Monaco are ready to do battle for Torres' signature, while also stating Didier Drogba's potential return will signal the end for the former Liverpool star. John Cross of The Mirror details an intriguing scenario:

Chelsea would want around £20m and Atletico have been told they must raise their price and match his contract, with Torres in no rush to leave Stamford Bridge.

[...] But ‎they will face serious competition from mega-rich Monaco where money will not be such an issue.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 30:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea goes past Tiago of Club Atletico de Madrid during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg match between Chelsea and Club Atletico de Madrid at Stamford Bridge on April 30, 2014 in London, Eng
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A tug of war may also take place for Romelu Lukaku, whose productive season on loan at Everton ensures he is very much in demand. The Toffees are said to want the 21-year-old for another season, but The Mirror's Martin Lipton indicates Juventus' extra clout will make a Goodison Park return difficult: "Juventus will ask Chelsea to let them have Romelu Lukaku on loan this season—and give him the chance to finish his footballing education in the Champions League."

Lukaku scored an impressive 15 goals in 31 appearances for Roberto Martinez's side last year, as per WhoScored.com.

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21:  Romelu Lukaku of Chelsea holds off the challenge from Ron Vlaar of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge on August 21, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Scot
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

He started the World Cup as Marc Wilmots' first-choice striker before a duo of poor performances saw him dropped for Liverpool target Divock Origi, as per Ben Smith of BBC Sport. Lukaku did come off the bench to score a vital goal against the USA in the second round, but he is likely disappointed with his overall showing.

The powerful Belgian offers a physical presence that is unique to Chelsea's current squad. Granted, Costa is a workhorse who will throw his weight around, but Lukaku's natural bulk and hold-up play can develop into a useful alternative for Jose Mourinho.

Should the Blues boss let either Torres or Lukaku leave, Chelsea fans shouldn't expect replacements to come in. "We finished the market today," Mourinho recently said, as per BBC Sport. "The transfer market closes 31 August and we close on July 19."

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 18:  John Terry of Chelsea (R) misses a chance as Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea (L) and Didier Drogba of Galatasaray (C) look on during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Chelsea and Galatasaray AS at St
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Former Chelsea star Ray Wilkins believes Drogba should be added to the squad if possible. He suggests Drogba can improve the club's youngsters by offering "the luxury of his knowledge" at Stamford Bridge, as told to Sky Sports News radio (via Audioboo).

It will most likely take Torres or Lukaku to leave for this to happen, although it would be interesting to witness how the latter's game would improve if Drogba arrived. The pair aren't too dissimilar, as Lukaku needs to add forward-thinking movement and a sense of grafting to his game, much like the African icon did during his time in France.

Mourinho certainly has an enticing option if one of his current strikers is to leave. Faltering play isn't accepted under the Portuguese boss who is building a magnificent squad during his second tenure with Chelsea. Both Torres and Lukaku could prove to be surplus to requirements, leading to exits that would be disappointing for very different reasons.