Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is enjoying his second spell with Chelsea thus far, sitting top of the league and playing his usual mind games with rival managers such as Manuel Pellegrini. And a busy transfer window in January saw Mourinho bring in more new faces following the arrivals of the summer.
One player that joined Chelsea and returning "Special One" in the summer was striker Samuel Eto'o. As a free transfer, Mourinho would have been hoping that the well travelled Cameroon forward could solve the striking issues that have been a headache for the Blues during recent times.
Despite billionaire owner Roman Abramovich splashing a huge £50m on Fernando Torres on deadline day in 2011, the Spaniard has failed to live up to the expectations of him at Stamford Bridge since he joined in the controversial move from Liverpool. The further addition of Demba Ba in January last year also did little to ease their woes upfront. Hence the arrival of Samuel Eto'o, who has found the net wherever he has played in the World.
However, he has failed to be the regular scorer that Mourinho is currently craving from his front men, and this is reflected in the scoring charts for the Premier League, with the tricky Eden Hazard currently topping the scoring for Chelsea. And, as a result of this and the failings of their current strikers, Chelsea are being linked to a selection of fine strikers from across Europe. Here, we take a look at 5 strong contenders to take the lead of the Chelsea line into next season.
5. Diego Costa
Atletico Madrid could find themselves subject to another major loss this summer should Mourinho choose to lodge a bid for in-form forward Diego Costa. Having sold Colombian sensation Radamel Falcao to rejuvenated French side AS Monaco, Costa has stepped forward this season and taken La Liga by storm.
His goals have seen him fire Atletico to joint top of the table, alongside bitter city rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona. However, they may well see him move on at the end of the summer should any club be willing to meet the minimum release fee in his contract, reported to be around the £32m mark. His stunning form has caught the eyes of other managers also, with reports also suggesting that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was ready to make a move for him during January.
However, despite his undoubted talent, Costa comes with a fiery reputation. His 'never say die' approach to the game has seen him in considerable trouble in Spain before the start of this season, and the recent derby against Real in the Copa Del Rey showed no exceptions to this.
His attitude is unlikely to put Mourinho off him though, and given his form this season, the interest in the Brazilian born striker could well intensify come the summer. If that is the case, Mourinho will be hoping to convince Costa that he is the man to lead the line for the Blues next season, should he make an approach for him.
4. Edinson Cavani
Uruguayan International Edinson Cavani is another name that is reportedly being chased by Chelsea, but they also suggest interest from David Moyes at Manchester United. A £54m signing from Napoli last summer, Cavani is still being mentioned as a possible target for both clubs.
The reasoning behind this is that Cavani is said to be unsettled in Paris, and the same reports suggest that representatives for Cavani have been in England to sound out any possibilities of a move at the end of the season. And given his form both at Napoli and now PSG, it seems Cavani has no problems in finding the net regardless of his location. And, with his powerful approach to goal scoring, his methods could very much suit Mourinho and Chelsea.
The stumbling block could prove to be his price tag, should PSG listen to any offers for one of their prized assets. They will be looking to re-coup the £54m they shelled out for him, but could also up that price again depending on how the rest of his season goes, and of course, how well he performs in Brazil during the World Cup.
3. Radamel Falcao
Another contender, all be it a bit of an outsider, is AS Monaco man Radamel Falcao. Having achieved the status as one of the most prolific strikers in Europe whilst at Atletico Madrid, Falcao was another player who was the subject of a big money move following a successful 2012/13 season, winning the Copa Del Rey in the process.
Like Cavani, Falcao has continued his fine form with his new side, but a recent injury has seen the Colombian ruled out for what seems to be the remainder of the season. However, surgery on the injured knee has meant there is hope for him featuring in the World Cup this summer.
Despite him being a vital part of what is a major development at the former French Champions, financial issues could see them forced to sell Falcao. Even if they are to sell Falcao to come in line with the impending Financial Fair Play rules, Monaco will also be looking to regain the rumoured £51m they paid for his services. And, again as with Cavani, this could be the stumbling block preventing Mourinho making a summer swoop.
2. Wayne Rooney
The previous summer saw Mourinho try and lure Wayne Rooney away from Manchester United in a bid to improve his striking options, only to be told by United that they would not part with the striker. Despite this, the issues surrounding Rooney and his future at Old Trafford are still to be fully cleared up.
Mourinho will be keeping his ear to the ground with all the developments regarding Rooney, and reports suggest that he will launch a fresh bid for the valued United man this summer. And he could well himself in a good position for negotiations with Moyes and United should they fail to qualify for the Champions League next season, and they are unsuccessful in their attempts to tie Rooney to a new deal.
United are very much in limbo right now, and with no certainties over Rooney's immediate future, the nerves will be trembling even deeper at Old Trafford. However, the arrival of Juan Mata and the plans Moyes may have for his summer signings could yet convince Rooney to stay, and with him now agreeing to discuss a new deal at United, Mourinho could find it even harder to break United's stance on their star man's future.
1. Mario Mandzukic
The final possibility out of the five mentioned here is Bayern Munich man Mario Mandzukic. And, given the recent comments of Bayern president Franz "Kaiser" Beckenbauer, Mandzukic could well be the most open option to Mourinho when it comes to a move in the summer.
Reports are suggesting that Mandzukic has no place within current manager Pep Guardiola's team. And furthermore, the striker has been told to "pack his bags" by former German great and club President Beckenbauer. And with the impending arrival of Pole Robert Lewandowski from rivals Dortmund, Mandzukic will surely find himself surplus to requirements at the Allianz Arena come next season.
With these problems facing Mandzukic and his future in Germany, Mourinho could well offer him a lifeline with a move to Stamford Bridge for next season. And with Lewandowski set to join, Bayern could well look to offload him in a bid to balance their books ahead of the new season.
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