The Hard Tackle lists three players Chelsea could potentially target to replace Timo Werner, who has been tipped to depart Stamford Bridge this summer.
It’s the summer of 2020. The 2019/20 season ended on a promising note for Chelsea, who reached the FA Cup final while also making the top four despite being unable to make improvements to a squad that an inexperienced manager in Frank Lampard received at his disposal at the onset.
There were some forgettable moments, but the skepticism around Lampard and his team was starting to wane; more so, after Chelsea splashed the big bucks in the transfer window to overhaul the squad and bolster just about every department. One of the most notable arrivals at Stamford Bridge came in the form of Timo Werner.
Tammy Abraham had impressed in his first full season at Chelsea in 2019/20 while Olivier Giroud almost always grabbed his opportunities with both hands. The Blues, though, still needed a world class striker to take them to the next level. That striker was envisioned to be Werner, who joined Chelsea on the back of a productive campaign on an individual level.
Thomas Tuchel was heard criticising Timo Werner's positional play during Chelsea's win against Everton 🗣 pic.twitter.com/zdXq9f2qOn
— Goal (@goal) March 9, 2021
Expectations were, therefore, invariably high from the German international, who did make a decent enough start to life at Stamford Bridge, but has been blowing hot and cold for the better part of the last four months or so. And, while no Chelsea player has made more direct contributions to a goal than him (16), the fact that his minutes per goal ratio (274) is comparable to Jorginho (289) is indicative enough of how sub-par he has been.
While he did show some signs of improvement in the early days of Thomas Tuchel’s reign, things have gone pear-shaped again lately. The latest report suggests that Werner could be on his way out of Stamford Bridge less than an entire year after first arriving at Chelsea. The Hard Tackle now attempts to list three viable replacement options for Chelsea, if Werner does end up leaving this summer.
Let us get the obvious one out of the way first. For months now, Haaland has been linked with Chelsea, who seem to have identified the Norwegian as their next poster boy, irrespective of who is in-charge of the first-team. The interest is hardly unfounded either.
Haaland might still be in the nascent stages of his career, but he is already one of the best strikers in the game. His record over the past year and a half or so speaks for itself. Haaland had been running riot for Red Bull Salzburg in the first half of the 2019/20 season before Borussia Dortmund came calling.
In 47 games so far for Dortmund, the 20-year-old has an exceptional record of 47 goals and 11 assists, with a direct contribution to a goal coming every 64.5 minutes. Earlier this week, he even became the fastest and the youngest ever player to reach the 20 UEFA Champions League goals mark.
By now, it is clear that Haaland is not only one for the future, he is one for the here and now, on par with some of the best players in the world at the moment. With Borussia Dortmund lagging behind in the top four race, the time could be perfect for the suitors to pounce.
Having said that, Chelsea will surely face stiff competition in pursuit of the Norwegian prodigy, who is also being tailed by the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and several other marquee names. As a result, the Blues will have a battle on their hands in the summer and it will be important that they make a move quickly. Nevertheless, Haaland is just the perfect candidate to replace Werner while becoming an instant upgrade.
The second name on our list is not quite at the same level as a Haaland, but has bundles and bundles of talent to be widely regarded as one of the most promising young strikers in the game. We are of course talking about Lautaro Martinez.
The Argentine has carved out a place for himself in the Inter Milan first-team setup, where he has forged a formidable strike partnership with former Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku. Martinez, though, can also revel in a single striker system, as he has done while on Argentina duty.
Like Haaland, Martinez has also been linked with a bevy of top clubs across Europe, although with Inter Milan facing some financial difficulties due to the vulnerable state of owners Suning Holdings Group, the 23-year-old could be ripe for the taking for Chelsea in the summer transfer window.
Martinez is also a player who could learn some tricks of the trade from someone like Olivier Giroud while also becoming an instant solution in attack. The only downpoint of pursuing a move for him is the fact that he is not as prolific yet as Werner was at his best at RB Leipzig, Nevertheless, seeing as he is brimming with potential, Martinez is certainly an option worth considering, if Chelsea are unable to land Haaland.
Haaland and Martinez are players whose peaks are well ahead of them and could potentially take some time to get to their very best, although Haaland would beg to differ. The third and final option we are presenting is a player who is currently in the peak years of his career, theoretically speaking and another one who could be approachable, albeit for a different reason.
Antoine Griezmann arrived at Barcelona with a lot of hype surrounding him, and rightly so. After all, he was once among the final three in the Ballon d’Or race and had also played a leading role in France’s 2018 FIFA World Cup triumph. However, since arriving at Camp Nou, he has looked a pale shadow of the domineering forward he once was.
Constant positional changes have surely hampered him, but he still has more quality than what a return of 27 goals and 15 assists in 86 appearances suggests. Having said that, the pressure that comes with playing for a club like Barcelona might not have helped and it appears as if Griezmann could do with a change of scenery. This is where Chelsea come in.
The Blues would not only provide him a fresh start while also offering the Frenchman the chance to play through the middle, something he has not been able to at Barcelona. With Griezmann still showing a lot of promise while playing for France, Chelsea could surely be in good stead playing him centrally.
If he does end up rediscovering his best, there are very few players who can measure up to the might of the Griezmann of his pomp. With that in mind, he could be a gamble worth taking, especially with his valuation dropping significantly.