Chelsea still have £197m transfer issue for Enzo Maresca to solve before Jonathan David agreement

Lille striker Jonathan David
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Chelsea can't be criticised for not trying when it comes to finding a new striker early on in the summer window. Questions certainly can be levelled at how they are going about the business though.

Jonathan David is the latest player they have held initial talks with and follows Benjamin Sesko, Jhon Duran, and Samu Omorodion in an already lengthy line of serious transfer targets. Whilst each has their strengths (and weaknesses at this stage, they are all 21 or younger after all) it's not clear what Chelsea actually want from their new No.9.

Nicolas Jackson is already in place and is coming off the best-scoring season for a Chelsea striker since Tammy Abraham in 2019/20. Only Diego Costa has more goals for a Blues centre-forward than Jackson and Abraham since Didier Drogba's 29 in 2009/10.

He actually managed more non-penalty goals than Cole Palmer last term. For a 22-year-old in his first full season as a striker, and just a second senior campaign in a top European league, it was mightily impressive. Jackson contributed five assists as well in the league, managing another four contributions in the two cup competitions.

Now 23, Jackson is primed to improve yet again. Smooth out some of the rough edges - mainly demonstrating more composure in front of goal - and it's no major leap to imagine him notching 20 a season. That he produced at the level he did despite having more of a load to carry than was ever the plan is another feather in his cap.

Jackson carried the burden left by a pre-season injury to Christopher Nkunku, the struggle for form and fitness of Armando Broja after his nine-month layoff, as well as the failure to secure a senior forward in January once Broja was loaned out. Chelsea are not prepared to enter Enzo Maresca's first season in charge equally understocked.

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A new striker is their priority for the window with possible additions elsewhere in goal, left-back, and on the wing. The sheer volume of attackers already being pursued shows where the true desire to recruit lies.

In this sense, the club cannot be said to be slacking. Their co-sporting directors and Joe Shields appear to be working towards finding Maresca a No.9 before pre-season gets underway in mid-July. This much is true, but there is still confusion over just what Chelsea want from this figure.

Players aged between 20 and 28 have been linked with a move to the club - although that is narrowed down to 20 and 24 for those understands talks have been held with. There is no immediate pattern in terms of profile, at least not with all of them.

Solanke is the only one with serious Premier League experience and even then interest has gone no further than being just that. Duran was the first to be turned to once Sesko committed himself to RB Leipzig for at least another season. He has played in England but only with a peripheral role at Aston Villa.

The pair are not the same sort of forward. Duran is a shot machine, someone who presses and harries defenders, causing carnage in the box and being strong in the air. Solanke is coming off the back of his best senior season and offers more of a physical presence than Duran. Both are strong but use it in different ways, both are good finishers but again shoot in different ways. Neither look particularly suited to a heavy link-up style Maresca favours.

Omorodion, who is reportedly valued at closer to £67million than the meagre amount Chelsea were willing to offer, is huge. At 6'4 he is the tallest of the options explored outside of Sesko. He is also incredibly raw. Looking for a striker with greater height, and who is good in the air, makes sense though given Mauricio Pochettino's insistence that the set-piece issues last season were as much due to squad make-up than lacking a specialist coach.

In Tosin Adarabioyo, Chelsea have already signed a tall defender, who is now the biggest outfield player at the club. Omari Kellyman is only 18 but is another tall player. Both Duran and Solanke are over 6ft.

David is not the same though. He is a good finisher who can drop into the hole to play and combine with his teammates. He is not as quick as Duran or Sesko, offers much less in the air, and is significantly smaller. Physically he is not as commanding but his track record in front of goal is so far the most impressive of all the options discussed.

Jackson and David are also broadly comparable due to their strong ability to interplay in tight spaces. Jackson is another who is over 6ft but is not reliable at all in the air just yet. David would appear to overlap with Jackson and at just six months older there could be progression issues to consider as well further down the line. With European football, though, he has plenty to offer.

However, it still begs the question as to whether Chelsea know the sort of player they want here. David on paper is the closest to hitting Maresca's on-ball demands but is an outlier in profile compared to those who have come before him. With £25million a suggested price for him, and £40million discussed for Duran, Chelsea have already been in the market for a combined tally of £197million plus worth of strikers since Sesko became unavailable.

And after all of it, it is no clearer just what sort of forward they are after. Is it a hold-up man, a penalty box forward, or someone to be great at linking up? Do they want to be better than Jackson, able to simply fight for his spot, or a similar profile able to rotate with him?