Many people thought that after Romelu Lukaku’s impressive season on loan at West Bromich Albion last season, where he scored 17 goals in the Premier League, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was going to keep the Belgium international and let him battle for his place.
But during the last few hours of deadline day the rumours over his future started to spread fast and the 20-year-old striker ended up making a last minute loan move to Roberto Matinez’s Everton.
Chelsea now enter the period from now until at least January, when the transfer window re-opens, with only three out and out strikers in Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o. They also have one man who can operate as a striker or as a winger in Andre Shurrle, and as was proven in the Manchester United fixture, Mourinho will not be afraid to deploy him up top.
GMS contributor Jordan Halliday offers his opinion on what each man can offer Chelsea this season.
We will start with Fernando Torres as out of the four options up front Chelsea have, he has been the longest serving player at the club and during last season he was their first choice in the role.
The usual stuff has been said about Fernando Torres repeatedly since his arrival at Stamford Bridge. They mainly run along the lines of him not being the player he was, or Chelsea not suiting his style of play, but what's most important to remember is that Fernando Torres is still a Chelsea player.
Jose Mourinho is the fifth manager Torres has played under at Chelsea and again another manager who has despite the striker’s form, stuck with him – which suggests that they see some encouraging signs in the Spaniard.
There have been moments of class shown from Torres every now and again that reminds us he is still one of the deadliest finishers in Europe – such as his brilliant strike against Bayern Munich on Friday night.
Last year Torres improved on his goalscoring form for Chelsea, scoring 22 goals in 64 games, which isn’t a great ratio, but almost twice as many goals as he had scored for Chelsea in his previous one-and-a-half seasons put together.
In Europe he scored nine in 16 games – including the opener in the Europa Cup final – showing he still has what it takes on the big European nights.
Mourinho, out of all the five managers to have been at Chelsea during Torres’ spell, is the most forthright and determined to do things his own way, so one would imagine that if Torres wasn't wanted at Stamford Bridge, he'd be out by now.
But the Special One has kept hold of him, and with Torres starting two out of Chelsea’s for opening games this season, it looks like the first choice striker role is Torres’ position in the squad at the minute.
Since arriving at Stamford Bridge in January from Newcastle, Ba has found his chances for Chelsea more limited than he would have liked, mainly playing back up striker to Fernando Torres.
During his first season at Newcastle the striker had scored an impressive 15 goals by January when he then had to leave for the African Cup of Nations. Ba’s Senegal strike partner Papiss Cisse signed for Newcastle in January and became a revelation, but when Papiss Cisse’s form began, Ba’s ended and he only scored one goal during the rest of the season, finishing it with 16 in 34 games.
When Chelsea signed Ba in January they had signed him whilst he was enjoying a renewed run of form, having scored 13 in 20 league appearances. His form however didn’t continue when he arrived at Chelsea – possibly due to the Blues' rotation not allowing him a chance to get consistency and adapt to their player.
He did, however, latch on to a long ball from Juan Mata to score a stunning volley against Manchester United, giving Chelsea a 1-0 victory in the FA Cup Quarter Final. Ba is big, strong and direct – much like Didier Drogba – who, with the signing of Ba, they were surely trying to replace.
He started Chelsea’s victory at home to Aston Villa this season, and although he didn’t score or have any real chances, he did look like he was making an effort to make runs in behind the defenders.
Mourinho rejected Arsenal’s loan bid for Ba, as with Mesut Ozil amongst their ranks he considers them title contenders. Ba will be hoping to prove that Mourinho made the right choice in holding onto him.
Eto’o’s record around Europe can’t be questioned as he has proven he can score goals in Spain, Italy and Russia, and in two Champions League finals, so in signing him they have definitely got someone with immense experience.
With Chelsea missing out on targets Radamel Falcao, Edison Cavani and Wayne Rooney, they didn’t have many other options to go for other than signing Samuel Eto’o.
At times Eto’o has had his arrogance and temperament questioned, but Mourinho has worked with him before at Inter and the fact he wanted to do it again suggests he trusts his man.
During his time at Russian outfit Anzhi, Eto’o had been deployed more as a creative player playing behind the front man rather than being the front man himself. I would be surprised if that was the way Chelsea will use him; I think they have brought him here for goals, so he will be back to his normal number nine role when he starts featuring in the squad.
Signing on a one year deal at the age of 32 there isn’t a lot of pressure on him. He isn’t at Chelsea to break goal scoring records, but he is here to score goals and be a ‘quick fix’ if you like.
If the Cameroon international finishes the season with even 10 or 15 league goals his time at Chelsea will go down as a success.
The German international was brought in from Bayer Leverkusen this summer and has already put in a couple of impressive performances for the Blues this season.
While his preferred position is as a second striker, Shurrle is usually deployed on the winger due to his vast amount of energy and speed and his tireless work-rate.
Jose Mourinho has already used him as the main striker in Chelsea’s game 0-0 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford. In a match like that it is unfair to judge his ability as a striker as service and chances will always be limited against such a tough team; the majority of the game he spent tracking back or trying to close down defenders anyway.
Shurrle scored 11 goals in 34 Bundesliga appearances last season, which is an impressive hall for someone not playing as a conventional striker, but despite some impressive finishes, he also missed more clear cut chances than any other player in Germany last year.
He is still only 22-years-old, though, so he has plenty of time to improve.
I doubt we will see him used at the main striker that much this season, but with his pace and the fact he does get himself into chances to score, he definitely gives Jose Mourinho another option.
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