The Premier League champions have made great strides under Antonio Conte and they were the deserved winners of the 2016-17 league campaign. Conte has certainly made his mark on the squad and he made a number of changes last season, including switches in formation and personnel. Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso became important figures in the starting XI and David Luiz’s return was capped off by a brilliant campaign. N’Golo Kante slotted into the midfield with ease and picked up the PFA Player of the Year award in the process. It was all smiles in the end but Conte isn’t at Chelsea to make friends and there are a few players who are likely to be on the move this summer.
Diego Costa heads the list of players looking for an exit door. The star striker has given Chelsea fans plenty to celebrate since moving to Stamford Bridge in 2014. He has scored 52 goals in 89 Premier League matches for Chelsea and he was in top form yet again last season, etching his name on the score-sheet 20 times in the league. The most successful Blues’ teams have had a powerful, goal-scoring centre-forward and Costa has certainly been that during his spell at Chelsea. His play mirrors that of former Chelsea hero Didier Drogba and his presence on the side is infectious.
However, Conte and Costa haven’t always seen eye-to-eye and a very public bust-up at the start of the new year was evidence of that. A move to China seemed likely in January but Costa decided against it, instead opting to see out the year in pursuit of a Premier League winners’ medal. He reaped the rewards for it but it seems Conte isn’t so quick to forget their disagreements and there has been numerous reports linking Costa with a move away from London.
With Costa seemingly making an exit, Chelsea could be a little lightweight in front of goal next season so it’s crucial they invest. Money isn’t a barrier for Conte – with Roman Abramovich providing more than adequate amounts throughout the summer transfer window. The proposition of playing for silverware while earning high wages under a dynamic manager, in England’s capital city, is hardly an opportunity many would overlook. Chelsea have everything to offer and very little to lose so they can chase the best strikers in Europe this summer.
There are two players worth chasing for the Blues. Romelu Lukaku and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would both be attractive signings for Chelsea and they would certainly improve the Champions’ already star-studded squad.
Lukaku has been heavily linked with a move to Stamford Bridge for some time now and it’s no surprise given he has averaged 17 league goals a season for the last five years while at Everton (25, 18, 10, 15, 17.) He’s scored 85 league goals in total for Everton in 186 Premier League appearances which is impressive for a team who consistently miss out on a top four place in the table. It’s clear Lukaku has the talent and ability to play for a team competing in the Champions League and it’s unlikely he will extend his stay at Everton for much longer.
He has strength, power and a natural eye for goal – all things Costa himself is notable for. Lukaku isn’t the type to make dynamic runs out wide or to weave in and out of players like Luis Suarez or Sergio Aguero. The Everton man is the ideal centre-forward in the box though and he is capable of scoring from anywhere within sight of goal. Chelsea already have dynamic wingers and creative midfielders – they just need a prolific striker who can provide power in aerial duels and precision in the six yard box.
Lukaku is that player and his £80 million price tag won’t deter Chelsea from the chase. The Everton striker began his Premier League career at Stamford Bridge and the lure of Champions League football should be enough to get his signature over the line.
However, competition from Manchester United may make the switch a little more challenging for Chelsea now Lukaku has a promise of European football under Jose Mourinho. There’s another striker who should be on Chelsea’s radar though and it’s Borussia Dortmund’s front-man Aubameyang.
The Gabon international became a huge figure under the guidance of Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and his partnership with Marco Reus has teared up the Bundesliga for the last few years. He produced 40 goals and three assists during the 2016-17 campaign so it’s no surprise there have been plenty of clubs showing an interest in his future.
Like Lukaku, Aubameyang is a natural goal-scorer and he is deadly in and around the six yard area. However, he has more range to his game than the Everton striker. Aubameyang has the pace to terrify defenders in the Premier League and he is extremely effective when cutting in from wide positions just outside the box. His style of play would slot in well with Chelsea’s free-flowing, fast tempo play but he could be tempted by the counter-attacking, high pressing style associated with Klopp’s Liverpool.
Costa’s departure would be a loss for Chelsea but under Conte and Abramovich, the Blues are more than capable of finding a suitable replacement and either one of Lukaku or Aubameyang would be a contender for signing of the season.