As far as goalscoring is concerned, it’s a problem that Chelsea are likely to have pushed to the back of their mind. Although they did draw a blank against QPR, and suffered a 1-1 draw against Swansea on the weekend.
Yet, there is cause for concern on the front-line. Predominant front-man Fernando Torres has netted just six goals in all competitions for the Blues this season, four of which have come in the Premier League. The departure of Didier Drogba over the summer left a hugely impressive void the needed to be filled and, despite what many may proclaim, the Spaniard isn’t the man to do that.
Manager Roberto Di Matteo may’ve secured the signing of Victor Moses from Wigan Athletic, but he’s hardly of Drogba calibre, while Daniel Sturridge is better suited cutting in from a wide position to wreck havoc on the opposition back-line.
With Romelu Lukaku showing signs of his massive potential during his loan spell with West Bromwich Albion, he is tipped to have a bright future at Stamford Bridge, but it isn’t enough to cover for the misfiring Torres. Unsurprisingly Chelsea have been linked with a host of big name players in January, but only a few really meet the appropriate criteria that would suit the current system under Di Matteo. Read on to find out who these front-men are.
Radamel Falcao – Atletico Madrid
‘El Tigre’ has already been linked with a big money move to Stamford Bridge in January and it’s hardly a surprise given his goalscoring exploits this season. With 13 goals in nine games in all competitions, Radamel Falcao has become the hottest of hot properties in world football, with the Colombia international’s goals firing Atletico to second in La Liga.
Manchester City have also been credited with an interest, but it will be Chelsea who lead the way having bore witness to Falcao’s exploits already this season (the 26-year-old netted a first-half hat-trick during the 4-1 European Super Cup win over the Blues back in August). Los Rojiblancos will, undoubtedly, be keen to hold onto their prized asset, but will find the difficulty to keep hold of him increasing following his impressive form this season.
Falcao would be the ideal man to lead the Blues front-line, with the striker capable of performing every action the ideal target man should do. His exploits, up until his season, have slipped under the radar, due to the astonishing goalscoring records of duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, but with the footballing world sitting up and taking notice, it surely won’t be long before El Tigre is roaming the plains of the Premier League in the hunt for goals.
Edinson Cavani – Napoli
Chelsea have been consistently linked with a move for Edinson Cavani, but thus far, have yet to snare the Uruguayan from Napoli. The 25-year-old has continued his impressive goalscoring form for the Serie A outfit, netting eight goals in 11 games in all competitions in his third stint at the Stadio San Paolo, where he has scored a staggering 66 goals in two seasons following his move from Palermo.
Part of the critically acclaimed ‘three tenors’, involving Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marek Hamsik, it was no surprise to see Cavani shoot to prominence with the Partenopei, fabled for their free-flowing attacking football under Walter Mazzarri, with the Uruguay international at the forefront of their impressive form, which saw them secure a fifth place finish following a debut campaign in the Champions League.
Very similar in playing style to Falcao, Cavani would indeed be an astute acquisition for the Blues, especially if played ahead of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Juan Mata. With his never-say-die attitude and ability to run opposition defenders ragged throughout encounters would only bolster Chelsea’s current prolificacy pushing forward, while his capability to lead the front-line as the lone striker see’s him as an ideal replacement for Torres, should the West London side opt allow the Spaniard to depart Stamford Bridge.
Fernando Llorente – Athletic Bilbao
Much has been written on Fernando Llorente, who only last year enjoyed his most prolific season to date, finding the net 29 times, as an exhilarating Athletic Bilbao raised eyebrows across Europe, battling their way to the Europa League final before falling at the final hurdle and succumbing to defeat to eventual victors Atletico.
More like-for-like as a replacement for Drogba, ‘The Lion King’ is expected to depart the San Mamés either in January or the summer, with his contract expiring in June. A training ground falling out with head coach Marcelo Bielsa will only hasten his departure, as witnessed by his lack of first-team football this season (Llorente has made just four appearances in all competitions for the Basque outfit this year).
Strong in air, but possessing the all too clichéd ‘good feet for a big man’, Llorente is one player that clubs will be scampering over each other to talk to in January, due to the 27-year-old being allowed to talk to clubs across the continent regarding a free move next summer. As mentioned, chances are the Spain international would be a like-for-like replacement for Drogba, offering a similar threat to the powerful Ivorian, much to the delight of Di Matteo, who relied heavily on the now Shanghai Shenhua front-man in his quest to land Champions League glory.
Leandro Damiao – Internacional
Possibly the least Samba-esque Samba star Brazil has produced in recent memory, Leandro Damiao’s goalscoring record speaks for itself. An impressive return of 74 goals in 124 appearances for the Brasileiro outfit should’ve seen interest in the burly front-man high, but regardless of his displays for Internacional; only a handful of teams have shown any liking for the 23-year-old.
An extraordinary summer for Brazil during the Olympic Games saw Leandro finish the tournament’s top scorer with six goals in five appearances as the Seleção forced their way to the final, before falling to a 2-1 defeat to Mexico. Nevertheless, only Tottenham Hotspur and Paris St. Germain were perceived to have made bids for Leandro, both of which were turned down by the Colorado.
Understandably, the major concern surrounding Leandro would be his ability to transfer his goalscoring exploits from Brazil to England. However, if he can replicate his record in the Premiership, he would be an astute signing for the Blues. Like Llorente, would be expected to be a Drogba replacement, due to the comparable playing styles, while the 23-year-old has previously insinuated that he wants to remain in his homeland until after the Brazil 2014 World Cup.
Robert Lewandowski – Borussia Dortmund
Last season was a career changing one for Robert Lewandowski. An inspiring 30 goals in 46 games saw Borussia Dortmund land a league and cup double and saw them secure back-to-back Bundesliga titles. On top of that, the 24-year-old was the figurehead of a Poland side that won over a number of doubters with their industrious, yet aesthetically pleasing, approach to games.
Netted the first goal of Euro 2012, Lewandowski won a number of admirers following his burly performances for the Eastern European outfit, who were unfortunate to have crashed out at the group stages. Bearing striking physical similarities to the above duo, the powerful Pole brings aspects of Cavani and Falcao to his game, rendering him the ideal signing of the quintet.
However, Chelsea will have to battle with Manchester United for the Dortmund front-man, with the 12-time Premier League champions also keeping tabs on the powerful striker. Nevertheless, the financial power of the Blues will surely have a final say, should the duo thrash it out with one another for the former Lech Poznan star.
By Ben McAleer