Christian Benteke has emerged as a surprise transfer target for Chelsea with Antonio Conte considering him a worthy alternative if his bid for Romelu Lukaku fails, according to The Times.
The Blues have been strongly linked with a move for Lukaku, who has developed into one of Europe's best young strikers since leaving west London in 2014.
However, Everton are believed to be demanding as much as £65million for the 23-year-old, which may prove too rich for even Roman Abramovich. The Russian oligarch saw his former head coach Jose Mourinho sell the Belgian for £28m. As a result, Conte has drawn up a list of alternatives.
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And it appears that Lukaku's international team-mate Benteke is the best option. The Belgian powerhouse cost Liverpool £32m to sign from Aston Villa last summer but has since struggled to establish himself at Anfield.
Liverpool's decision to sack Brendan Rodgers and replace him with Jurgen Klopp has served a great disservice to Benteke, who has found that his target man qualities do not fit in the German's fast and furious system.
Benteke finished the campaign with a respectable 11 goals but was used primarily as a substitute by Klopp. Indeed, 23 of his 45 appearances came from the bench.
Chelsea's striker problem
But while Klopp will have too many strikers to choose from next season, Chelsea could potentially have none.
Radamel Falcao will leave after a disastrous season-long loan deal from AS Monaco while Alexandre Pato has proved little more than useless since arriving in January.
Loic Remy is also expected to demand a move after another campaign in the fringes of the squad but, more significantly, Diego Costa is also believed to be unhappy with life at Stamford Bridge and has been angling for a return to Atletico Madrid, where he arrived from two years ago.
But while Conte may have some problems rebuilding his forward line, the Italian is still hoping to sign as many as four other players in different positions.
The Blues have enquired about AS Roma's defenders Antonio Rudiger and Kostas Manolas as well as their Belgian midfielder Radja Nainggolan. The same report also claims they are negotiating with Juventus over right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Inter Milan’s Samir Handanovic is seen as a potential replacement for goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is also believed to be angling for a move away.
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