Chelsea began their season under Maurizio Sarri in what was a dream start, remaining unbeaten in their first 12 league games due to which Sarri had set the managerial record for the best unbeaten run from the start of a Premier League career. The transformation from a 3-4-3 to a 4-3-3 formation has been positive so far and their recent 2-0 win against Manchester City added even more confidence to the team.
As this Chelsea side is adapting to Maurizio Sarri’s style of football, they still remain a long way behind the much anticipated Sarriball. A possible reason for this is the absence of a goal-scoring number 9. Current Chelsea strikers Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud are struggling for form with both strikers having a total of only six goals in the league this season.
Alvaro Morata joined Chelsea from Real Madrid in the summer of 2017 for a whopping 58million becoming the club’s most expensive signing of all time. The 26-year old started his Chelsea career with a lot of promise and potential to be among the top scorers in the league, it was until he suffered a hamstring injury while playing against Man City and shortly followed with a back problem. After returning from injury, Morata was a changed person, he became more short-tempered due to which he accumulated lots of yellow cards, his form dipped rapidly as he started missing 1v1 chances which affected his confidence levels. After Sarri arrived at the Stamford Bridge, Morata’s attitude has improved but his form hasn’t improved that much. Morata’s physicality is also something that hasn’t helped him to adapt in the Premier League, he is often bullied by defenders and gives away the ball easily. The Chelsea board now seems to have lost their patience on Morata and it’s looking likely that Morata could be on his way out of Chelsea as soon as January. According to reports, Morata has interest from AC Milan and Barcelona, and if Chelsea receive the same amount that they spent on him then they would be more than happy to carry on with the transfer.
So, in this article we are going to have a look at the players who could replace Alvaro Morata at Chelsea and complete the final piece of Sarriball.
Before we begin, it is to note that Chelsea are very unlikely to sign a young striker with high potential during this window and would likely go for a mature and experienced striker, but Chelsea have a strict policy of signing players under the age of 30 then why would they go for someone older than 30? This is because Chelsea have a young prospect in Tammy Abraham, whom the club rate very highly and while he’s developing it would be wise to have someone more experienced until he’s ready for the first team, but with the fear of an impending transfer ban, the stance may change.
Gonzalo Higuain is rated very highly by Maurizio Sarri and the duo share a healthy relationship. They go back to the days of Napoli when Sarri called Higuain a ‘lazy striker’ and said he couldn’t even score a penalty. Later Sarri turned Higuain into a world class goal-machine. Sarri was left frustrated when Higuain decided to switch from Napoli to Juventus. Higuain is open to the idea of reuniting with Sarri again at the Bridge but the deal will be a bit complicated as Higuain is on loan at AC Milan from Juventus. Chelsea can use AC Milan’s interest in Alvaro Morata to reach an agreement but it will require the agreement of all three sides for the deal to go through.
Another player managed by Maurizio Sarri during his time at Napoli, Dries Mertens, is a versatile winger who was converted as a centre forward by Maurizio Sarri. Mertens playing as a false 9 made immense progress as he had scored 28 goals and assisted 9 goals in the 2016/17 season. Mertens also became the first player since 1974 to register back to back Serie A hat-tricks.
When asked about his future, Mertens stated the following – “I love it here in Naples, but maybe in one year, I’m free, so maybe you never know, maybe Sarri is going to call me. We will see.”
The 31-year old Belgian forward is willing to reunite with Sarri and this deal could take place as Mertens contract runs out in 2020 so Napoli won’t be able to demand insane amount of money for him. Napoli’s possible replacement for Dries Mertens would be Krzysztof Piatek of Genoa and contacts are already being made regarding his availability.
Callum Wilson is another target being scouted by Chelsea. The 26-year old England International has been in great form for Bournemouth this season scoring 8 goals and assisting 5 goals so far. Wilson earned his three lions call-up recently and is a man in demand. Wilson will also boost the home-grown quota of players for Chelsea as Gary Cahill, Danny Drinkwater, Cesc Fabregas and Victor Moses all are rumoured to be leaving the club this January. Wilson signed a new 4-year deal this July which would keep him at the club until 2022 and it would take crazy amount of money for Chelsea to bring in Wilson during mid-season. Bournemouth, on the other hand, will do all they can to hold on to their best player.
However, Chelsea could have a good shot at Wilson in the summer transfer window.
Another player rumoured to be scouted by Chelsea, Vardy, who was a key part of the Leicester City squad that won the Premier League title in 2015/16. Vardy is a pacey striker who likes to play behind defenders, making runs behind defenders and a clinical finisher which meets the requirements of Maurizio Sarri’s style of football.
Vardy signed a new 4-year deal in August for the Foxes which extended his contract till 2022. The 31-year old has been loyal to the club and never indicated any desire to leave but now he might start to reconsider his options, as he would want to win atleast one more trophy before hanging up his boots and where better to win it than Chelsea. Vardy will also boost the home-grown quota of players for Chelsea. This is a deal that could go through if Chelsea offer decent amount of money for Vardy and the player could be open to the idea of moving to West London and reuniting with former teammate N’golo Kante.
Last but not the least, Edinson Cavani, who’s situation is being monitored by Chelsea as well as other clubs like Athletico Madrid and Napoli. Cavani is the least favored by PSG manager Thomas Tuchel among the front 3 of PSG. The 31-year old Uruguayan’s contract expires at 2020 and it is being reported that an offer of about 45 million would be enough for PSG to sanction the transfer.
The situation in this transfer is that Chelsea will probably offer him an one and a half year contract which they do to players aged above 30 and this might make Cavani think about his future after his contract goes up and also he has never played under Sarri nor has he ever played in England. It could take him time to settle in England and he would hope for atleast a two and a half year contract. Another stumbling blocking this transfer could be Cavani’s wages. The 31-year old receives about 200k a week at PSG and Chelsea are unlikely to meet those demands, Cavani would have to take a pay cut, like David Luiz did, when he joined from PSG to Chelsea. At last, it comes down to Chelsea’s ambition, whether they are going to risk it all for him or they move to the other targets.
As we head into the transfer window more names will be added to this list, who do you think should replace Alvaro Morata at Chelsea?