With the January transfer window open and the transfer ban lifted, Chelsea look poised to add talent and quality this month, especially in attack. Second and third choice strikers Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud both find themselves linked to loans and sales away from Stamford Bridge meaning the Blues will need cover up front.
Who are Chelsea looking at? Who would be the best solution? Will the deal happen?
Attackers Chelsea Should Look to Bring In During January
Timo Werner (23), Striker – RB Leipzig
The German international, for several years, seemed the heir apparent to Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich. The problem? Lewandowski’s goal-scoring hasn’t dissipated one bit after turning 30-years-old. Werner, then, is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Wait for an indefinite amount of time for Bayern’s phone call or skip the Bundesliga giants and head to another league?
Would Leipzig really sell Werner midseason? They face Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League round of 16 soon and sit atop the Bundesliga at the halfway point. With a chance to knock Bayern off their perch, Leipzig have no reason to sell unless it’s for an astronomical amount. Moreover, selling Werner leaves Leipzig with adequate, but not stellar, replacements up front when trying to fight on two fronts. That’s a losing strategy.
Chelsea may want Werner, he may want to move, and Leipzig may want to cash in on him. However, the timing and circumstances aren’t right for a deal this month. A summer deal is the most likely scenario to see anything happen, if at all.
Gabigol (23), Striker – Flamengo on Loan From Inter Milan
Gabriel Barbosa, affectionately known as Gabigol, is back on the European radar after two hugely successful seasons back in his native Brazil, one with Santos and then this past year with Flamengo, leading them to the Copa Libertadores title (South America’s version of the Champions League) and the Club World Cup final where Flamengo lost to Liverpool.
A few years ago, 18 months of underwhelming performance in with Inter and on loan at Benfica moved him aside to relative obscurity, but he’s fought his way back, causing Chelsea to gain interest in the Brazilian. Gabigol has improved quite a bit from when he first touched down in Europe in 2016 as a flashy player with pace and trickery. Now, he more resembles a traditional striker, using his strength to find space in the box, hold up the ball, and win aerial duels, which is exactly what Chelsea and Lampard want in their number nine’s.
The former ‘next Neymar’ doesn’t come without baggage though. He may look the part, but his nightmare first impression in Europe will be hard to erase from people’s minds. How about his own psychological battle? He couldn’t hack it in Italy or Portugal and now he’s supposed to prove himself in a tougher, faster, better league? Granted, maybe now he is indeed ready for the big move, being more mature, more developed. It is without a doubt still a risk though.
Alexandre Pato; Radamel Falcao. Those are other South Americans that came to Chelsea and fell flat on their face. No, it’s not fair to be sceptical of a Gabigol transfer because two different South American strikers didn’t pan out for Chelsea in the recent past. Regardless, that’s the reality. A six-month loan is probably the safest bet for all parties involved if anything happens in January. If Chelsea can negotiate a bargain or swap with Inter, as they’re interested in several Chelsea players, then a permanent deal is certainly in the cards.
Moussa Dembele (23), Striker – Lyon
The Frenchman has made the rounds in leagues just below the best and made a name for himself in the process. After relative success in the Championship at Fulham, he moved to Celtic and continued his impressive form for two years before transferring to Lyon. In 162 senior games played, he’s scored 100 goals between the different leagues and cups he’s played in. It’s a pretty good tally for a player without a senior international call-up.
Lyon sit in 12th place and 12 points off an automatic Champions League spot. Plus, in the upcoming last 16 of this year’s Champions League, they face Juventus, a pretty daunting task.
This bodes well for Chelsea. Lyon don’t need to hang on to their leading striker for a second-half surge domestically or on the continent. The thing to consider is that Lyon have already lost Memphis Depay to injury for the rest of the year. Without Dembele and Depay, they would have no one remaining in the squad with more than five goals this year. That doesn’t just keep them from moving up, but at worst could see them fall into a relegation battle.
If Chelsea want to bring in a striker this month, Dembele is their best option to get a deal done. But will he want to sit on the bench? With Euro 2020 on the horizon, any prayer he has of the making the squad means he has to play and a move to Chelsea wouldn’t facilitate that. On the flip side, without even being on France’s radar at the moment thanks to a plethora of attacking talent, he may not even be thinking of the Euros and ready for a step up in competition.
Jadon Sancho (19), Winger – Borussia Dortmund
According to Transfermarkt, Jadon Sancho should fetch over €120 million for any club wanting his signature. Teams pursuing the young Englishman include Chelsea, both Manchester United and Manchester City, and Liverpool, and that doesn’t include non-English sides like Real Madrid who also want to bring in the budding star.
Chelsea currently boast plenty of youth and veterans out wide and Sancho would only make another player surplus to requirements. Of course, though, bringing him in would amount to replacing, or trying to replace, Eden Hazard. No matter how right or wrong, Sancho would carry that expectation with him, that he has to fill Hazard’s shoes.
Sancho fits Chelsea’s style, ambitions, and youth movement and would certainly be in contention to start immediately, but the fee is a bit off-putting. Is the Dortmund winger worth it? He certainly has earned that huge valuation, on pace for nearly 50 combined goals and assists this season across all competitions with Dortmund. Will Chelsea move for him?
On paper, it’s a toss-up. Every club interested can find the money to buy him. It’s just a matter of where he has his heart set on. Chelsea may not be the favourite for his signature, but they aren’t as far behind as some might suggest. Former teammates Christian Pulisic and Michy Batshuayi might just be able to persuade him to move to London.
Wilfried Zaha (27) Winger/Forward – Crystal Palace
The Crystal Palace academy product once again sees himself linked with several clubs for a big-money move away from Selhurst Park. Depending on which publication you believe, Chelsea are the favourites for his signature or they’ve ended negotiations after hearing his wage demands. Either way, Zaha is not a guy the Blues need to pursue.
First, they have plenty of cover on the wings. Even if Willian and/or Pedro leave this summer, Chelsea still have several to play out wide, and arguably they’re just as good if not better than Zaha, who’s career-high league goals is ten. Plus, at 27, how many more prime years does the Ivory Coast international have? Buying him a year or two ago would’ve made more sense, but now? Too expensive and too late.
Chelsea may move for the Palace talisman, but it would not amount to the wisest or best investment. If Chelsea truly believe in the youth movement, yes they’ll need a veteran presence or two in the dressing room. However, Zaha doesn’t have the Champions League or international pedigree the Blues would prefer. A lot of signs point to this transfer happening, but it’s not smart business for Chelsea.