Chelsea transfer exclusive: Boehly targets trio of strikers as Ben Jacobs assesses the good, the gamble and the untouchable

Osimhen, Vlahovic Chelsea Exclusive Credit: Alamy
Osimhen, Vlahovic Chelsea Exclusive Credit: Alamy

Chelsea are finally expected to address their blatantly obvious lack of a central striker this summer and trusted source Ben Jacobs has given us a trio of names who are all in the mix to move to Stamford Bridge.

The Blues have spent £600m on new transfers since Todd Boehly and his Clearlake Capital co-investors took over from Roman Abramovich at the helm, but they failed to truly replace Romelu Lukaku or Tammy Abraham while bringing in countless signings.

Kai Havertz and Joao Felix have been operating as a ‘false nine’ in a Blues side lacking goals, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang used sparingly.

Christopher Nkunku will be arriving from RB Leipzig in the summer. However, the France international is considered more of an attacking midfielder than a traditional centre-forward.

To that end, the Blues are expected to have a busy summer again, although whether Graham Potter is still in charge remains to be seen.

And, speaking to Ben Jacobs, we’ve learned which names are on the club’s radar and the likelihood of any of those deals actually happening.

He said: “Chelsea have got a lot of versatile players that are creative, that when they’re in form can chip in with goals and assists. But they’ve still not got that experienced focal point that you know is going to weigh in with 15-20 goals a season – and what Chelsea need right now is goals.

“So Kai Havertz is there, Joao Felix is there and hopefully from Chelsea’s point of view those two will create an effective partnership playing together, and Graham Potter does seem to like them in the same team rather than one or the other.

“But there’s room for one more and if Aubameyang goes, I think that Chelsea will look for that more traditional striker.”

Trio of names on Chelsea radar

Jacobs has pointed out that one of Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic, Napoli powerhouse Victor Osimhen and Brentford’s Ivan Toney could be in Chelsea blue come next season.

He added: “Dusan Vlahovic is one to watch because there’s a real opportunity to prise him away from you Juventus.

“He’s actually done okay in terms of his Serie A goals tally, I think it’s eight goals in 15 appearances, but he has struggled with injuries. And he didn’t have a great World Cup, but Graham Potter really likes the player.

“So that is one for both Chelsea and other clubs to keep an eye on. Because even though he only joined Juventus two Januarys ago, I don’t think he’s particularly happy playing under Max Allegri and their points deduction means Champions League football is unlikely.

“There’s also a bit of instability and financial need for Juventus to offload a few. And as a consequence, I think that for Chelsea and others think there may be an opportunity there.

“I wouldn’t rule out or Ivan Toney either because he is obviously in good form. But due to the alleged betting breaches, I think any club considering Toney from afar needs to understand what that punishment is.

“But as you would expect if that ban is not long, and there is an opportunity there at the end of the season, then there’ll be clubs looking at Toney simply because he offers goals and he comes straight in with Premier League experience as well. But right now Chelsea haven’t really advanced anything on that.

“And I also think any club looking at Toney will just need to understand what the potential ban is for the alleged betting breaches before they move any further.”

Red-hot Osimhen in high demand

Osimhen, meanwhile, is expected to be a player on the lips of many a top club this summer, given his current form with in a flying Napoli side.

And Jacobs added: “Chelsea, like Manchester United and others, are bound to be linked with Victor Osimhen because everyone in world football wants him at the moment because he’s in red hot form.

“He’s the right age. And these types of strikers are few and far between at this point. But Napoli have got two world-class players in their frontline including Georgian star Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.

“But it’s Osimhen who’s taken Serie A by and Napoli are seemingly in a procession towards the title. You can also argue that they’re genuine Champions League contenders at the moment, and both those players, even though they’re linked with a number of cloubs are incredibly happy at Napoli at this stage.

“So Napoli are in no rush to sell and they absolutely will not let Osimhen and Kvaratskheliagos in the same window. But if it’s big, big money it’s very serious money for both of those players to stand any chance of leaving.

“Osimhen is now on 21 goals in all competitions. And obviously, he’s still got a massive chunk of the season to go. So Manchester United, Chelsea, and plenty of others love the striker, they realize that he’s a great fit for Premier League football, and also is a great age – which means that the transfer fee paid would again be an investment, not an expense.

“But it’s just going to be incredibly difficult to get Osimhen out as Napoli are a tough negotiator too and the price is going to be very high.

“Osimhen’s attitude has also been exceptional. He’s humble, he’s settled. And football, as you know, not only thinking about money and challenge, there’s also a human aspect as well.

“When they’re younger, they don’t have to be in a rush to leave. So it’s also about persuading the player that the summer is the right time to move and selling that vision of you know, you’re going to play every week, what formation are you going to be playing who’s going to be managing you?

“So with Manchester United, they’re starting to build that Arteta-like consistency where when a player is looking windows ahead, they realized the manager is not going to change, they also realize seven or eight of the players are not going to alter.

“They realize the formation, the strategy, and they can see the direction of travel. What Chelsea have to do is convince their players what the project is, and if they’re going to play week in week out, and if the manager is going to be the same.

“This is just part of a teething problem of building a new model and a new project, and that’s why, especially with Chelsea, if they didn’t get Champions League football, it becomes harder to persuade those top type of players.

“So Chelsea will be ambitious. And Chelsea celebrated in many ways the January window because even being mid-table, they were still able to get Fernandez and prize Mudryk away from Arsenal because of the terms that they offered.

“So that tells you that as a big club in London, with huge ambition, and a vision and project that is long term, they still have that power.”

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