Football Whispers examines the other hotshots the Blues could call on to lead their attack next season
AS ANTONIO CONTE is quickly learning, it never rains: it pours.
The Chelsea boss, fresh from seeing Romelu Lukaku join Manchester United, now looks set to miss out on Alvaro Morata.
The Real Madrid striker has been a Chelsea transfer target since last summer.
But now he is happy to remain at the Bernabeu despite being behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema in the pecking order.
Conte has already informed Diego Costa he was not part of his plans via text earlier in the summer.
And now he will have to return to the drawing board to work out who will lead the line for the champions.
Our friends at Football Whispers explore the possibilities open to the Italian coach at Stamford Bridge.
Here are his options:
Andrea Belotti factfile
- Born December 20, 1993, in the small town of Calcinate in the northern province of Lombardy
- Earned his nickname Il Gallo (The Rooster) from a childhood friend who suggested he mimicked a rooster’s comb on his forehead
- After an unsuccessful trial with Atalanta, joined AlbinoLeffe as a 13-year-old, eventually making his first-team debut in Serie B in 2011
- Moved on loan to Palermo in 2013, providing an assist to former Rangers and Norwich City striker Kyle Lafferty on his debut – helped Palermo to promotion in his first season but struggled for matches the next year
- Torino spent around £6m on him in August 2015. He scored 12 Serie A goals in his first season before his stunning 28-goal campaign last year
- Scored a seven minute hat-trick in January and also became the first player under 24 since Andriy Shevchenko in 2000 to score at least 24 Serie A goals
- Has been capped at U19, U20, U21 and senior level for Italy
Chelsea have worked their way through almost every available top European striker already and could now turn to Torino hitman Belotti who bagged 26 Serie A goals last season.
The 23-year-old has an £89m release clause written into his contract but the Blues are desperate to sign a replacement for Costa and shouldn’t, therefore, be put off by the price.
Belotti began his remarkable run of form in the second half of the 2015/16 season by scoring 12 times from the end of November onwards and has won nine Italy caps, scoring four times, since.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang factfile
- Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang is a Gabon international, but was born in Laval, France in 1989
- After 12 years playing in French youth football, Aubameyang joined Italian club AC Milan, where big things were expected
- But incredibly, now valued at more than £60million, the Rossoneri never gave him a chance. He was loaned out to four clubs before joining French outfit St Etienne for a fee believed to be less than £1m
- He was the top scorer in his first season in France, despite joining in December. He ended with 16 goals in Ligue 1
- The following season only Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored more goals than the Gabon striker. This earned him a move to Borussia Dortmund
- His finest season in the Bundesliga was the one just passed, 2016/17 where he finished with a majestic 42 goals in 51 games
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the son of former Gabonese international Pierre Aubameyang
After netting 40 times in all competitions for Borussia Dortmund last season it was inevitable Gabonese striker Aubameyang would be linked with moves away from BVB this summer.
At one stage the 28-year-old looked set for a big-money move to China. But talk surrounding a £71m switch to Tianjin Quanjian has gone quiet in the last week and he has also been linked with Paris Saint-Germain.
However, it has emerged Dortmund have offered the former AC Milan forward to Chelsea. The speedy frontman, who scored 31 times in the Bundesliga, would not come cheap. But he guarantees goals.
Not the sort of signing to get Chelsea fans excited, Swansea City forward Llorente played a huge part in his side’s survival last season by bagging 15 Premier League goals.
At 32 the Spaniard would only be a short-term option but would benefit from having played under Conte at Juventus. Together the duo won Serie A and the Supercoppa Italiana before the Italian coach quit to take up the Italy job.
However, one potential stumbling block is Llorente’s fitness. The former Athletic Bilbao forward is currently sidelined with a broken arm suffered while cycling on holiday. Chelsea need someone who is ready to hit the ground running.
The Blues might not have to look outside of Stamford Bridge. Although Dominic Solanke and Bertrand Traore have been sold – and Tammy Abraham has moved out on loan – Chelsea still have Batshuayi on their books.
The 23-year-old, who is a West Ham United transfer target, joined from Marseille last summer for £33m. But he made just one Premier League start for Conte who was clearly not convinced by the Belgian hitman.
Despite that he averaged a goal every 47.2 minutes in the Premier League and scored the all-important late winner art West Bromwich Albion to seal the club’s fifth Premier League title.
It’s a long shot, but could Costa be the answer to Chelsea’s problems? The Spaniard bagged 20 Premier League goals last season despite a high-profile falling out with Conte in January over a potential move to China.
He has been left out of Chelsea’s pre-season training camp and is expected to return to former club Atletico Madrid. But he won’t be able to register or play until January owing to Atleti’s transfer ban.
That could be Chelsea’s in, if Conte can persuade the 28-year-old to remain at Stamford Bridge. A pay rise should smooth things over, then the Italian’s problem would disappear overnight.
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