Chelsea have fewer goals than Haaland, who should they sign?


Premier League side Chelsea have scored fewer goals (19) than Manchester City striker Erling Haaland (20) so far this season. It’s a damning statistic for the eighth-placed Blues even if, in only his 14th league appearance for City, Haaland has become the fastest player to hit the 20-goal mark in Premier League history.

Chelsea’s 19 goals are only one more than 14th-placed Bournemouth and 24 behind the Premier League’s top scorers: unsurprisingly, second-placed City at 43.

So what can they do? The January window is approaching and, with Armando Broja injured, Chelsea need to sign a central striker to take the goal-scoring burden alongside veteran Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and converted midfielder Kai Havertz.

With expensive transfer mistakes in Romelu Lukaku (€115 million, now on loan at Inter Milan) and Timo Werner (signed for €53m in 2020 and returned to RB Leipzig for €30m two years later) still fresh in the mind, the club have some decisions to make. Having already snapped up Andrey Santos (€12.5m) and David Datro Fofana (€10m), here’s who else they could target.

Jump to: Who are Andrey Santos and David Datro Fofana?

Last January’s €70m signing from Fiorentina is yet to fulfill expectations at Juventus but, in the wake of a turbulent year in Turin, Vlahovic still has 16 goals in 36 Serie A games for the club.

While there is no indication yet that Juventus are actively looking to move on the Serbia international after just one year, their current financial circumstances (with a record loss of €254.3m for 2021-22) may prompt an opportunity to snap him up.

One of the most naturally talented out-and-out centre-forwards around, Vlahovic could add more aggression in attacking duels and improve his participation in the build-up, but his aerial timing, quick finishing technique and ability to pull away from his marker in the box make him a highly intriguing transfer target.

With his current terms expiring in 2024, the main attacking force behind Milan’s title-winning campaign last season is being courted by an array of elite clubs across Europe.

Although Milan want to keep hold of Leao and know they have a €150m release clause to fall back on, Chelsea’s urgency to sign the Portugal international may have been alleviated by the pending €60m-plus arrival of multi-functional Christopher Nkunku from RB Leipzig in the summer.

However, Leao is a powerful, direct presence in attack and must still be an attractive addition to the comprehensive Stamford Bridge rebuild. From his favored left-wing position, the 23-year-old forward has 34 goals and 30 assists from his 135 games in Milan and, with a knack of tying up defenders to open up space elsewhere, he averages six dribbles per 90 minutes.

For all his natural talent and promise, Felix has struggled to assert himself at Atletico after a €126m club-record transfer from Benfica three-and-a-half years ago.

Clashing with defensive-minded manager Diego Simeone, his defensive/pressing contributions have improved, but the Portugal international is a fountain of creativity who generally needs to roam free and find space on instinct. Equipped with a sublime first touch, the intelligence to set up neat one-twos and triangles, plus the imagination to play deceptive passes to his teammates, he could thrive as a “false No. 9” in a possession-based side.

Given his start-stop progression over the past years, Felix may still be a gamble given a reported €100m transfer fee (or €8m loan fee), yet the potential upside is significant.

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Having been in the spotlight since he made his debut and scored in the Champions League for Dortmund days after turning 16, it’s hard to believe that Moukoko is only just 18. His mini-breakthrough this season — taking over from the departed Erling Haaland – – saw him score six goals in 14 games before the World Cup and, with his contract expiring in 2023, has predictably led to mounting speculation about his future.

At this point of his development, the Cameroon-born Germany international would be more of a long-term project for an ambitious Premier League side, but the prospect of landing one of the top teenage talents in Europe on the cheap is enticing for Todd Boehly and company.

With speed and excellent dribbling skills, Moukoko is primarily a threat on counterattacks and transitions, although his ever-improving finishing abilities and venomous left-foot shot also give him an edge in tight spaces in the box.

After impressing at the 2022 World Cup with France, Thuram has a host of admirers looking to sign him on the cheap as he has just six months left on his contract. Having been moved to a more central position in the Gladbach attack this season (previously he mainly featured as a left winger) the tall, robust and quick forward has scored 10 goals from 15 Bundesliga outings.

As a result of the tactical tweak, he has started to find the net from new areas, though predominantly through outpacing the opposing backline, sharp one-touch finishes in the box (often with his weaker left foot) and applying his physique in a more assertive manner. Thuram’s versatility would be an asset to Chelsea, while he could also become the focal point in attack as a No. 9.

Having been strongly linked with a transfer in the summer, the Netherlands international may be a good move if all else fails. Although, since the recent arrival of a new technical set-up and scouting department, Chelsea seem to work in a more coordinated, forward-thinking manner, which could see them move on to other targets.

Admittedly, Depay’s stint at Barca (only two league appearances this season) hasn’t been particularly successful. But it is easy to forget how he carried Lyon prior to his ill-fated free transfer in 2021 and the fact he is reaching his peak at 28.

The lack of playing time at his club can explain Depay’s relatively ordinary performance at the 2022 World Cup, but he should still be capable of making an impact with a change of environment. His link-up game, ability to slot into a variety of attacking roles and leadership qualities are all still there and, with his contract due to expire next summer, striking a deal in January shouldn’t prove too much of a challenge.


David Datro Fofana, 20, FW, Molde

The Ivory Coast international arrived in Norway with a reputation as one of the most promising talents in West Africa and, following a year of adaptation, he demonstrated exactly why he was held in such high regard. Amid a series of sensational individual displays he ended the season with 15 league goals from 19 starts and grabbed the Norwegian Eliteserien’s Young Player of the Season award.

Apart from his goal scoring — which he can do from a varied set of techniques, angles, distances and positions — it’s Fofana’s quick conversion of thought into action, combined with fine technical ability, that deserves to be highlighted. Courtesy of his fine close control, agility and body command, he evades markers in tight areas with intuitive ease. Furthermore, he carries the ball with such pace that he almost appears to gain speed as he runs with it.

Whether signed with the intention of immediate first-team exposure or as one for the future (there’s still naivety to be rooted out of his game), Fofana’s capability of single-handedly creating goal-scoring opportunities (albeit at a significantly lower level than the English Premier League) understandably made him an attractive proposition for elite European clubs.

Andrey Santos, 18, CM, Vasco da Gama

A hugely talented central midfielder who has already starred for Brazil’s youth teams and stood out as a regular for Vasco da Gama in the second tier of Brazilian league football. While it’s still too early to predict what role Chelsea have in mind for him in the long-term — or whether he will be kept, or sent out on loan this season — his intrinsic technical and physical qualities are beyond doubt.

Partly a ball-winning No. 6, partly a technically superb ball-carrying No. 8, Santos’ neat touches and body feints in central areas help him avoid the opposition pressure and his balance sees him retain the ball well. In addition to all his technical qualities, he covers wide areas, has an impressive determination and plays with high intensity. If that wasn’t enough, his aerial game is strong for a central midfielder, he scores from distance and already has the nous to time effective late runs into the box.



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