One Chelsea attacker split opinion in the Sky Sports studio, as Graeme Souness and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink went toe-to-toe over the club’s struggles in the final third.
Chelsea spent around £280m last summer and have continued to splash the cash on transfers for both January and June. However, despite their huge outlay, the Blues continue to wrestle with a bluntness in attack.
Indeed, they mustered just one goal at the City Ground on Sunday that was good enough for just a draw against relegation-threatened Nottingham Forest.
Chelsea’s tally of 20 goals is the lowest of all teams currently in the top half. Next fewest is Manchester United with 24, though the Red Devils have amassed seven points more with the same games played.
Graham Potter opted to start Kai Havertz up front against Forest as he chopped and changed who’d lead the line once more. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang started on the bench, while Raheem Sterling featured out wide and Armando Broja is a long-term injury absentee following an ACL injury.
Chelsea’s struggles in front of goal sparked a heated debate in the Sky Sports studio that contained Souness, former Blues striker Hasselbaink, and Jamie Redknapp.
Hasselbaink threw his backing behind Havertz as the man who should be given an extended run up top. However, that proved the pre-cursor to a fiery exchange with Souness as Chelsea’s overarching transfer strategy came in for flak.
Souness and Hasselbaink argue over Havertz, Chelsea policy
“For that position in that moment in time, I just think that they need to stay with him playing there.
“A lot of times he drops into midfield because he wants to touch the ball more, but he will help Chelsea more if he just stays up there.”
Souness snapped back: “No [Havertz isn’t the answer]. He isn’t going to get enough goals.
“I think it’s madness when you sell Timo Werner, who wasn’t the answer, [Romelu] Lukaku, and then you go and spend £170m on three defenders [Cucurella, Fofana, Koulibaly].
“The hardest thing to find is goalscorers, they are generally the most expensive and you pay them the most money.
“The priority for me is having sold two strikers, who weren’t the answer not long-term or short-term, but they were better than what they have got right now.”
Todd Boehly “made a mistake” – Souness
“I don’t agree,” Hasselbaink said, but Souness wasn’t finished, adding: “Jimmy, you can’t sell two strikers and not replace them.
“I’ve answered, I’ve said he’s [Werner] not good enough. I have just said that. They made a mistake not signing a striker [aside from Aubameyang].”
Hasselbaink got the last word and doubled down on Havertz being the man to lead Chelsea’s line.
The German, 23, has just 28 goals and 15 assists to his name in 114 Chelsea appearances.
Havertz has scored vital goals for the club, not least the winner in the 2021 Champions League final against Man City, though it cannot be argued greater numbers are expected from £71m forwards who lead the line at the biggest clubs.
“There’s a lot of players who have played that position,” Hasselbaink concluded.
“There’s been chopping and changing, Sterling has played there, Broja, Havertz, Aubameyang hasn’t worked really.
“Havertz had a really good game vs Bournemouth and I think he needs to play there. But he needs to stay there. We have seen him in the past play on the left, on the right, in the moment we need him to play as a striker.”
Chelsea have moved to address their goalscoring issues to some degree in the form of adding Molde’s David Datro Fofana to their ranks.
Additionally, a deal for Christopher Nkunku has been wrapped up and the lethal Frenchman will arrive in June.
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