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6 strikers who could answer Chelsea’s goalscoring conundrum


Since Diego Costa departed the club in the Antonio Conte era, Chelsea have struggled for a reliable goalscorer. Is there any striker out there who can cure their goalscoring ailment?

There is perhaps no greater footballing currency than goals. Just about everyone thinks they can ripple the back of the net. Few can do it consistently. Great strikers very often make great teams, rewarding the inventiveness of creative players, the ingenuity and hard work of the team, and the solidity of the defence by finding the back of the net and securing the three points.

In modern football, goals can come from anywhere. For example, Arsenal’s leading scorers in the 2023-24 Premier League season are wingers Bukayo Saka and Leandro Trossard and Kai Havertz, a unicorn of a footballer who sits somewhere between an attacking midfielder and a false nine, but can also play as a pure striker.

By contrast, Manchester City’s dominance is largely pinned on the back of Erling Haaland’s incredible goalscoring feats. A record-breaking first Premier League, followed by another 20-goal season, taking the Norwegian to equal-93rd on the Premier League’s all-time top scorers list despite playing just 62 games in the English top flight.

Where some clubs need a potent out-and-out striker, others expertly score by committee, sharing the goalscoring load. For better or for worse, Chelsea is a club inherently tied to requiring an in-your-face, borderline disrespectful goalscorer. Someone capable of producing something from essentially nothing.

Didier Droga did this. Diego Costa did too. As did Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Frank Lampard. For the best part of two decades, the lineage of great Chelsea strikers consistently flowed. When Hasselbaink, Drogba and Lampard emerged, supported by Nicolas Anelka. When that trio’s careers wound up, Diego Costa carried the mantle, winning two titles.

Since the Spaniard’s departure, however, frustrations have run deep at the club regarding their lack of goalscoring potency. For a handful of seasons, Eden Hazard papered over the cracks before departing for Real Madrid.

Academy graduate Tammy Abraham looked like an answer. Until he wasn’t. Romelu Lukaku arrived for a then-club record fee, started strongly before fading professing he desire to return to Italy halfway through the year, losing the support of everyone at the club and fading into mediocrity, his every touch bouncing from him as if the Belgian were made of concrete.

Between Costa’s departure and Chelsea’s current iteration, the club have also cycled through Alvaro Mortata, Gonzalo Higuain, Olivier Giroud, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

At the beginning of the 2023-24 campaign, the club invested in young Senegalese striker Nicolas Jackson on top of welcoming French forward Christopher Nkunku’s arrival. Jackson’s return of 10 goals is respectable for his debut Premier League season, while injury has robbed Nkunku of playing time.

All this means frustrations around the club’s lack of a striker capable of taking the game by the scruff of the net have risen to a boiling point for Chelsea fans. Just as Hazard papered over the cracks previously, Cole Palmer’s electric goalscoring form has saved Chelsea on many occasions.

Even with potential financial breaches looming, common wisdom suggests the club will enter the transfer market this off-season and bolster their side. If they choose to invest in a striker, here are six strikers who could potentially targeted by the club.

Chelsea, AFCON, Ivan Toney
Christopher Nkunku has played just 318 minutes in his debut Premier League season, scoring twice

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Could these men cure Chelsea’s striker headache?

Victor Osimhen

There is arguably no hotter European football striking commodity at the moment than Victor Osimhen. Napoli’s Nigerian sensation has goalscoring in his blood. In 22 games this season, Osimhen has found the back of the net 14 times. Rewind the clock to last season, when he inspired Napoli to their first Scudetto since Diego Maradona was in the building, and the Nigerian scored 26 times in 32 matches.

Every European football club needing a striker this summer will target Osimhen. An incredibly well-rounded striker, he’s capable of scoring almost any type of goal and works tirelessly off the ball for his team. Quick, technically exceptional and capable of drifting into wide positions, Osimhen’s rangy, seemingly endless legs make stealing possession from him difficult for defenders.

Of course, detractors will point to the last Chelsea striker signed from Italy for big money, Romelu Lukaku, and suggest any move for Osimhen is futile. Yet, unlike Lukaku, Osimhen’s ties with Napoli have been severed by sickening off-field activities, with the striker professing the time is right for him to progress to the next chapter of his career.

Ivan Toney

As early as February, Brentford manager Thomas Frank conceded star centre forward Ivan Toney would depart the club at the end of the 2023-24 campaign. After scoring 32 goals in his first two Premier League seasons, a gambling ban has limited Toney to 14 games this season, within which he’s found the net four ties.

Yet, Toney’s form is a symptom, not a cause, of Brentford’s poor form this campaign. At his best, the Englishman is a well-rounded number nine capable of finding the net and expertly linking with his teammates.

Physically imposing, with a slight turn of pace and sharp footballing mind, Toney would fit seamlessly into Chelsea’s side. He’s Premier League-proven, an aerial threat who can feast on crosses from Reece James and Ben Chilwell, and brilliant in both build-up and within the penalty box. Recent reports suggest the striker may be available for £30-£40 million, a relative bargain in the modern age.

Alexander Isak

Speaking of Premier League proven, this Premier League season, Alexander Isak has proven he’s one of the division’s top strikers. 19 goals in 26 games paint half the picture of Isak’s game. Few strikers, particularly his height — six-foot-four — are as comfortable with the ball at their feet as Newcastle’s Swede.

Comfortably drifting wide, typically into space on the left side of attack, and collecting the ball before running at ragged and often helpless defences, Isak’s 2.7 progressive carries and 1.7 successful take ons per 90 is more than 90% of strikers in Europe’s top five leagues.

Given Chelsea’s array of wide attackers, and Christopher Nkunku’s increased involvement next season, a striker capable of drifting wide, stretching defences and withdrawing opponents from games with swift dribbles and deft touches could be exactly what the Londoners need. Though, he won’t come cheap.

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Benjamin Sesko

Likely the most unknown quantity on this list, Slovenian striker Benjamin Sesko has quietly put together a respectable debut Bundesliga season. In 28 games, the 195-centimetre forward has found the net 11 times, at a rate of one goal every 122 minutes.

A multi-faceted striker, adept with both feet and strong in the air, Sesko has drawn comparisons with Erling Haaland. His intelligence isn’t limited to within the penalty area. The young striker understands when to use his body to shield the ball when to play teammates in and which pass is ideal for the situation. Few can argue his trajectory isn’t headed for the very top of European football.

At 20, Sesko fits the age profile targeted by Chelsea’s owners. However, his youth and the fact RB Leipzig only purchased him at the beginning of the 2023-24 season mean he will likely come at an extreme premium for a footballer with minimal top-flight experience. Whether Chelsea has the need, or patience, for another project is another matter altogether.

Tammy Abraham

A known quantity at Stamford Bridge. Before Cole Palmer’s excellent 2023-24 season, Chelsea academy graduate Tammy Abraham was the last player to score 15 Premier League goals for the club in a single season. This occurred back in 2019-20. Since then, Abraham’s career has been a rollercoaster.

Timo Werner’s arrival before the 2020-21 campaign meant there was no room for Abraham in Chelsea’s plans. A move to the Italian capital and AS Roma materialised, with the Englishman scoring 17 times in his first season in Serie A. Yet, significant injuries, form, and Romelu Lukaku’s arrival from Chelsea have hindered Abraham’s opportunities since his breakout debut season at the club.

Not a noted natural finisher, Abraham offers Chelsea a cut-price striker option, someone who progressed through their academy, understands the club and the Premier League and could be afforded some initial leeway from supporters.

Nicolas Jackson

By his own admission, Nicolas Jackson misses ‘a lot.’ In fact, only Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Mallorca’s Cyle Larin have underperformed their xG more than Chelsea’s 22-year-old striker this season across Europe’s top five leagues. In the Premier League, only Erling Haaland and Darwin Nunez have missed more big chances than Jackson.

And yet, Jackson has managed to find the back of the net 11 times in his debut Premier League. While this is far from an impressive return, Didier Drogba only managed more than 10 goals in four of his nine Premier League seasons.

In flashes, Jackson has shown his potential as a striker. Confident on the ball, capable of dropping deep or drifting wide in build up, and a serviceable presser, there is plenty to like about Jackson’s game. Unfortunately, he’s had to deal with hefty expectations and some extremely poor misses.

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This isn’t to suggest he is perfect but given Chelsea’s potential financial constraints and Christopher Nkunku’s increased involvement next season, which, alongside Cole Palmer’s form, should alleviate the goalscoring burden from Jackson’s inexperienced shoulders.

If Chelsea feels Jackson can grow into a 15-goal-per-season striker with deft link up and genuine off-ball value, it may be best for their financial situation, and future prospects, to use any money they’d spend on a striker in other positions.

Ivan Toney, Brentford, transfer
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Kyle Robbins
Kyle is a senior sports writer and producer at Only Sports who lives and breathes sport, with a particular burning passion for everything soccer, rugby league, and cricket. You’ll most commonly find him getting overly hopeful about the Bulldogs and Chelsea’s prospects. Find Kyle on LinkedIn.

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