A new era has commenced at Stamford Bridge, as Italian Antonio Conte has replaced Jose Mourinho as manager of Chelsea. New formations, philosophies and players will be utilised in a much anticipated campaign.
One year after winning the Premier League, Chelsea limped to a middling 10th place finish, a complete aberration from 2014-15. Improvement is needed, and a top-3 finish is expected in Conte’s first season.
He has already stamped his early impact on the squad with a couple of marquee signings. Striker Michy Batshauyi and box-to-box midfielder N’Golo Kante have been brought in, and both are expected to impact the squad profoundly in their first seasons on West London.
Inconsistent goal-scoring was one of the club’s glaring weaknesses in 2015-16. Although Conte has attracted Batshauyi to his new club, Chelsea could use another scoring option on the frontline, especially because Diego Costa’s future with the club is obscure.
With just a few weeks of the transfer window open, Conte should try to find another proper striker.
These are the five forwards he must pursue before the season starts…
Luring the star Frenchman would take some strategic convincing and a huge offer.
Outside of Barcelona and Real Madrid’s stars, Griezmann was arguably the best player in La Liga this season, scoring 22 goals for Atletico Madrid. His quality translated onto the international stage, and he led the EUROs with six goals, doubling the output from the next highest player.
Many of Griezmann’s traits— speed, creativity and finishing— were missing in Chelsea’s egregious campaign. Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas looked like shadows of their former dominant selves, while Diego Costa struggled to find the net.
Adding a player of Griezmann’s ability would create a whole new dimension to a Chelsea attack that needs revamping. But Conte must act swiftly.
The 22-year-old enjoyed a nice season with West Brom and attracted suitors as a result.
Berahino is a clinical finisher with outstanding pace. He scored four goals in 17 games and has just tapped into his potential as a prolific goal-scorer.
The striker provides skill, youth and Premier League experience. He would provide competition to Diego Costa and Michy Batshuayi for playing time, while giving Chelsea a third dangerous scoring threat at striker.
Benteke’s stint with Liverpool may be short-lived, as he has been the subject of spiralling transfer rumours all summer long. He scored nine goals for the Reds in 2015-16, but inconsistency and a volatile relationship with Jurgen Klopp have led to his likely departure from Anfeld.
He is exactly the type of player Conte could utilise. He won’t have the same pressure he did at Liverpool and would blend in with Chelsea’s abundance of quality attackers.
Conte could bring Benteke off the bench for a boost of energy and scoring. The Belgian has shown he is capable of finding the net in spurts. Perhaps a change of scenery would revitalise him.
The former Manchester United standout still has plenty of quality football left in his career. The Mexican marksman scored 17 goals for Bayern Leverkusen last season, finishing fourth in the Bundesliga.
Last season, Chelsea scored one goal or less in 20 Premier League games. Their confusingly weak start to the season featured little scoring, and it wasn’t until the final third of their campaign until the Blues found the net abundantly.
Hernandez is capable of scoring at any touch. Diego Costa was inconsistent last year and Michy Batshuayi needs to show his success in Ligue 1 will translate to English football.
Hernandez, after spells at United and Real Madrid, has seemingly been forgotten on the world football scale. His 2015-16 campaign shows he can still find the net in a top league.
He asserted himself as prolific goal-scorer in 2014-15 when he netted 27 times in Ligue 1. The Lyon star faltered to begin the following season but revisited his past dominance in the latter half.
Lacazette scored 14 goals in Lyon’s final 15 matches last term. As a result, Arsene Wenger has aggressively pursued him, offering £29million to the Frenchman in recent weeks.
Luring him to Stamford Bridge would not only improve the Chelsea attack and infuriate their London foe in the process.
In Chelsea’s triumphant 2014-15 campaign, the squad finished second in goals scored with 73. The Blues scored only 59 times this season.
The need for a proven, dangerous goal-scorer is prevalent, and Conte has plenty of options on the transfer mill.