Can he be the one to break the striker ‘curse’ at Stamford Bridge?
It is safe to say that when it comes to spending big (any money even) money on strikers, Chelsea doesn’t have the best track record.
More often than not, the man they saw as the guy to spearhead them to success with a gluttony of goals, has simply not delivered.
Andriy Shevchenko from AC Milan for £30m in 2006. Fernando Torres for £50m from Liverpool in 2011. And more recently, the £58m that was needed to bring Álvaro Morata to Stamford Bridge from Real Madrid in 2017.
Since Roman Abramovich bought the west London side in July 2003, Chelsea has spent £342.5 million on 21 strikers, an average of £16.3m on each one of them.
List of strikers bought since the 2003-04 season:
(* = Player still at the club – via a contract or a loan period)
Adrian Mutu – £15.8m, from Parma (38 apps, 10 goals).
Hernán Crespo – £16.8m, from Inter Milan (74 apps, 25 goals).
Mateja Kežman – £5.3m, from PSV Eindhoven (41 apps, 7 goals).
Didier Drogba – £24m, from Marseille & Free, from Galatasaray (381 apps, 164 goals).
Andriy Shevchenko – £30m, from AC Milan (77 apps, 23 goals).
Claudio Pizarro – Free, from Bayern Munich (32 apps, 2 goals).
Nicolas Anelka – £15m, from Bolton Wanderers (184 games, 59 goals).
Franco Di Santo – £3.4m, from Audux Italiano (16 apps, 0 goals)
Daniel Sturridge – £3.5m, from Manchester City (96 apps, 24 goals).
Fernando Torres – £50m, from Liverpool (172 apps, 45 goals).
Romelu Lukaku – £18m, from Anderlecht (15 apps, 0 goals).
Demba Ba – £7m, from Newcastle United (51 apps, 14 goals).
Samuel Eto’o – £2m, from Anzhi Makhachkala (35 apps, 12 goals).
Diego Costa – £32m, from Atlético Madrid (120 apps, 59 goals).
Loïc Rémy – £10.5m, from QPR (47 apps, 12 goals).
Radamel Falcao – Loan, from Monaco (12 apps, 1 goal).
Alexandre Pato – Loan, from Corinthians (2 apps, 1 goal).
Michy Batshuayi – £33.2m, from Marseille (53 apps, 19 goals).*
Álvaro Morata – £58m, from Real Madrid (72 apps, 24 goals).*
Olivier Giroud – £18m, from Arsenal (55 apps, 16 goals).*
Gonzalo Higuaín – Loan, from Juventus (12 apps, 3 goals).*
Over the course of the (close to) 16 years, despite the likes of Crespo, Anelka contributing a decent amount from a goalscoring perspective (alongside Torres and Batshuayi scoring memorable goals against Barcelona and West Bromwich Albion respectively), the only two hitmen that can be considered a genuine success at SW6 are without question Drogba and Costa.
As for the rest… the success rate goes from okay to abysmal.
Right now, Higuaín (with Giroud being the back-up) is the current Chelsea No.9. Loaned from Serie A’s Juventus in January of this year, it was hoped the recently-retired Argentinian international would be the solution for Maurizio Sarri’s side. An elite striker with 300+ career goals, someone who has worked before with Sarri in a successful relationship… it appeared Chelsea – on paper – had finally found someone since Costa departed who could bang in the goals that were badly needed.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out. The 31-year-old has struck just three goals – against Huddersfield Town and Fulham – and has struggled with the physicality and pace of the Premier League.
“Higuaín said to me it’s difficult,” Sarri explained after his side’s win at Cardiff City. “The physical impact of the defenders here is really very strong, The referees here are really very different than in Italy, so it’s another football for him, especially for a striker and a goalkeeper, it’s really very different.”
Given his age and lack of impact at Stamford Bridge, it’s highly unlikely Chelsea will attempt to make Higuaín’s loan move permanent. And with Giroud out of contract at the end of the season and Morata deemed surplus to requirements, the Blues will need to enter the transfer market – assuming they can while their transfer ban appeal is heard – this summer.
Which brings us to Luka Jović. The Serbia international has blossomed into one of Europe’s finest strikers this season. He has struck 17 goals in the Bundesliga for Eintracht Frankfurt and is arguably the most sought after striker in world football right now, with Jovic being linked with moves to several of Europe’s top clubs, including Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
According to multiple sources, Chelsea and Barcelona appear to lead the way in the race for the 21-year-old. With this said, over the last few days, the Catalan side have bulked at the reported asking price of €60M (£51m) and now the deal appears to be ‘dead in the water’. This, alongside Jovic not very willing to be ‘substitute’ for Luis Suárez… makes Chelsea now the clear frontrunners to get the signing of the Frankfurt hotshot (who is still on loan from Benfica).
Jović certainly wouldn’t come cheap. And given their history with high-profile striker signings, Chelsea may feel such a fee is a risk for a striker with only one prolific season to his name.
However, they have to buy him. At any cost. There are shades of Suárez and Sergio Agüero to his play. He’s brutish, relentless and simply loves to score goals (of any kind). Jovic without a shadow of a doubt is the PERFECT modern-day No.9 in my opinion.
It’s clear Higuaín is in the twilight of his career. Another striker that was bought at the wrong time. Despite his success of multiple titles and hundreds of goals to his name, he is yesterday’s man and Chelsea can’t afford to be stuck with another ageing star. It’s time for the Blues freshen things up.
Jović’s career at the top level is only just getting started. He wouldn’t come cheap but he would be an excellent addition for Chelsea, a striker which their attack could be built around for years to come and finally break the unfortunate trend of recent number nine mishaps.
While Chelsea have missed out on many high-profile strikers in recent memory, if they have a chance to sign players in the summer (transfer ban lifted or frozen) it would be smart for the club to splash out on Jovic.
Simply put… they have to.