Can we pick one?
Chelsea’s search for a striker for the 21/22 season is a fact. Chelsea’s top scorer in the league last season was Jorginho who had 7 goals. Jorginho isn’t known for his goalscoring so for him to be the top scorer when we have Werner, Tammy, Havertz, Pulisic, Hudson-Odoi, Ziyech, Giroud amongst others means that we lack a certain type of player. We have lacked that player since Diego Costa left in 2017. The are three main options although two are realistic ones. The unrealistic one is Harry Kane because even though he is available Spurs would never sell him to Chelsea. Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, and Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku are the two left. Through this post we will see the pros and cons of each and see which one would be a better fit.
Now to understand why Chelsea need a striker we only need to see our striker stats for the last few seasons. Chelsea have had many famous forwards but when it comes to them paying off on their promise it hasn’t always worked out. Below are the stats of our top scoring striker since the 09/10 season:
Top scoring strikers each season starting 09/10 (All Comps)
Over the last 12 seasons Chelsea have had 10 different strikers top the charts and only get 20+ goals four times over those 12 seasons. It really doesn’t make for great reading and is one of the main reasons why Chelsea have not consistently dominated in the league. We had Costa but we fumbled the ball in 2017 and he wasn’t happy to remain in London. Since 2017 we have tried four different strikers and none have managed to cross the 20 goal mark.
Chelsea have identified that the need for an out and out striker is there and the two on the top of the list are Haaland and Lukaku. So, lets look at what each has to offer:
Haaland is 20 years old and plays for Borussia Dortmund in the German Bundesliga. The last 2 years have seen him gain a meteoric rise to stardom. He started the 19/20 season playing for Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga for whom he made 22 appearances scoring 28 goals and 7 assists in the process across 3 competitions including the Champions League group stages. This caught Dortmund’s eye and they made a move in January. Haaland went on to make 18 appearances for Dortmund scoring 16 goals across three competitions. Haaland ended the season with 44 goals and 10 assists.
The 20/21 season was his first full season at Dortmund and he did not disappoint as he made 41 appearances and scored 41 goals with 12 assists as well. Its safe to say that Haaland is one of the best strikers in world football and at just 20 the sky is the limit. Now in most shooting and goal stats Haaland finds himself in the top 5 and usually only behind Lewandowski. When it comes to goal and shot creating actions Haaland similar to many strikers falls behind in the shot creating actions. Where Haaland does excel is in and around the box and dribbling where he again features in the top 10. Shot that lead to another attempt or shots that lead to an another goal scored Haaland is involved. Haaland is very much the old fashioned striker and it’s a rarity.
Now where there are pros there are cons starting with the massive price tag. Dortmund are under no pressure to sell but given that next summer could see Haaland leave for just 75 million makes one wonder why they aren’t looking for buyers now. At the moment Dortmund’s stance is clear they don’t want to sell Haaland and only an offer of around 175 million Euros or around 150 million pounds will make them think. That’s one hurdle.
The next hurdle is who represents Erling Haaland and that is one Mino Raiola. Yes, Mino Raiola the infamous agent of Pogba, the agent that cost us Lukaku in 2017 and an agent that really does look to extract everything out of a deal. Raiola is demanding a massive fee for his services while Haaland’s father is also demanding a fee for the same. In total Chelsea could be looking at an expenditure of 200 million Euros as a whole. That is ALOT of money.
Now one would rethink the expenditure if it mean that Haaland would stay at Chelsea for a minimum of 5 seasons but thats likely not going to happen. Raiola is said to be looking at inserting a release clause which is laughable. Raiola likes to keep his clients moving and with Haaland so young we could see him being paraded out to Real Madrid or PSG within a season or two.
For me Haaland is a great talent and if Chelsea were to buy him then we would be getting a top striker. The money spent would be a lot and regardless of what one think more money equals more pressure. Raiola is really the most sour note of any potential deal but if there is someone in the football world that can deal with him it is Marina Granovskaia. Top striker, great if Chelsea get him but Haaland is not my first preference.
Chelsea fans will know Romelu Lukaku well and it seems like there is a possibility to call him one of our own again. Lukaku joined Chelsea way back in 2011 and saw us win the Champions League in Munich as part of the squad that travelled. 12/13 saw him go out on loan to West Brom where he made 38 appearances in all comps scoring 17 and assisting 7. Those contributions though came in his 35 appearances in the Premier League. Mourinho then came in 2013 and gave Lukaku his chance but after he missed a penalty in the Super Cup final Lukaku was sent out on loan again this time to Everton. Lukaku would make 32 appearances for Everton in all comps scoring 16 and assisting 8. Lukaku was then sold to Everton in the summer of 2014 and in the 14/15 season he made 48 appearances for the Toffees scoring 20 and assisting 7. 15/16 saw him make 46 appearances scoring 25 and assisting 7. 16/17 was the season Chelsea won the league under Conte and Lukaku had his best season yet making 35 appearances in the league, scoring 25 goals and assisting 6 in the process.
Then the summer of 2017 came. Costa was rumoured to be leaving and Chelsea were actively looking for a striker. Naturally the only one Conte wanted was Lukaku. The Italian saw him as the ideal striker, but the hurdle was again one Mino Raiola. It looked like Lukaku was within touching distance but Chelsea refused to pay the agent fee and Lukaku ended up at Manchester United. It was a gut punch. I was so hyped to see Lukaku return and actually fulfil his dream in Chelsea blue but it was not to be. We ended up with Morata and the 17/18 season saw Lukaku make 51 appearances scoring 27 goals and making 9 assists.
Lukaku’s manager at United was Jose Mourinho and naturally things weren’t smooth. The 18/19 season saw Lukaku make 45 appearances for United but only score 15 goals and assist 4. Solksjaer showed little faith as well and Lukaku along with a new agent in Pastorello, sealed a move to Inter for the 19/20 season and it’s funny how the universe works because the manager was one Antonio Conte.
The 19/20 saw Lukaku return to form as he made 51 appearances for Inter scoring 34 goals and assisting 6. 20/21 saw him make 44 appearances as he scored 30 goals and assisted 10 winning Serie A in the process. Lukaku had a good Euro’s as well and now we end up in our current situation. Lukaku publicly stated before the Euro’s that he was staying at Inter and his agent has said the same. Conte has left Inter and Inzaghi is their new manager. Inter are in financial trouble but the sale of Hakimi to PSG seems to have eased that situation some what.
Now if we look at the goal stats on face value then we Haaland is clear as he has scored more but it’s not that simple. Haaland plays in the Bundesliga and it is notorious for leaving open space in behind for players to run in one and one score goals. Timo Werner scored 28 goals for Leipzig in the league in 19/20. Lukaku has been consistent for much longer and has proved it in a variety of situations. West Brom, Everton, Man United, Inter all different styles of play but the constant is him scoring goals. At Inter Conte has made Lukaku into a complete striker and that is where Haaland is left behind. Lukaku out performs Haaland in all shot and a goal creating situations and he actually tops Serie A in goal creating actions. In this way Lukaku seems to be similar to Muller where he is more involved in the overall play of the team and we saw that in the Euro’s as well.
Chelsea need this sort of striker one that can create and finish a chance for himself one that is lethal but one that can create for others as well and at Chelsea he should have no shortage of chances to finish. I am sentimental when it comes to these situations and I do feel that Lukaku and Chelsea have unfinished business together. Lukaku is 27 and can easily give the next 5 years to this club minimum. It would be a full circle journey and with Tuchel Chelsea are aiming for success. The rumoured price would be around 100 million Euros which is 80 million pounds. That would leave you with plenty of money to do a deal elsewhere. Lukaku would not treat Chelsea some stepping stone and most importantly there is no Raiola that tags along with him.
In conclusion, Haaland and Lukaku are both top strikers. Both of them will get Chelsea goals but while one is fairly young the other is an all rounder and a finished article. Haaland is a raw striker and again moving to a high pressure club like Chelsea is a tough task for anyone. Lukaku knows how to deal with the pressure has been there and done it and is the leader we need at the top to lead Chelsea to glory.