Forget £170m Victor Osimhen - Chelsea’s next lethal goalscorer is staring them in the face

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The Blues are understood to be in the market for a new striker in the January transfer window.

In the immortal words of Morrissey and Marr, stop me if you’ve heard this one before; Chelsea, football’s very own creased Croesus, need a striker. Shock horror. To be fair, The Smiths writ large feel like a pretty good metaphor for the Blues in their current guise - the occasional exhibitions of tight rhythmic machinations; the moments of bright, jangling optimism; the frontman who unerringly reminds you that life is a meaningless trudge that brings nothing but pain, anguish, and baffling frustration. And that’s to say nothing of the pervading sense of panic at Stamford Bridge, exacerbated by the fact that for all of their miserable spending, Mauricio Pochettino is in possession of a squad that is, in some respects, very much still ill. (Then, of course, there is the de facto legal defence amid ongoing investigations into alleged transfer misdeeds; ‘Willian? It was really nothing.)

Over the summer, Todd Boehly sought to soften the Blues’ attacking woes with a couple of characteristically exorbitant purchases. Thus far, they have not worked out as he presumably might have hoped. Christopher Nkunku, a man who celebrates his goals by inflating a red balloon, has, as a consequence of a nasty knee injury, been harder to spot than Pennywise the clown in a storm drain, while Nicolas Jackson has been so inconsistent that there is a strong argument to be made that the Blues would have been better of signing his namesake, Janet. Factor in the intermittent absence of Armando Broja, and the point of Chelsea’s attack has flitted between the ineffective and the makeshift during the early knockings of the current campaign.

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If reports are to be believed, Boehly has decided that the solution - as with most hiccups he encounters - is to throw money at the problem until it magically dissipates into the ether. Several prospective targets have already been touted, and by far the most illustrious is Napoli’s masked sensation Victor Osimhen. For quite some time now, the Nigerian has been one of the most ardently-desired talents in world football, and with 65 goals in 111 outings for the Italian champions, it is easy to see why.

It is also, for that reason, wholly understandable that Napoli value him as highly as they do. Depending on who you believe Osimhen could cost as much as £170 million. Even split over eight years, that’s a lot of money; especially for a player with no Premier League experience, and especially when there is another, perfectly fine option positively chomping at the bit to sign for a club just like Chelsea in January.

I’m talking, of course, about Ivan Toney - a man who promises to pay the mortgages of an entire industry of gossip columnists during these harsh, looming winter months. The accepted wisdom at this stage is that the striker, upon returning from his ban for breaches of gambling regulations, will leave Brentford partway through the current campaign, and that either Chelsea or Arsenal are his most likely destination. (Manchester United are also said to be interested, but that particular branch of speculation remains comparatively under-developed.)

And while Toney’s name may not possess the same aura that Osimhen’s does, there are reasons to believe that he could be the cannier acquisition. For one thing, there is the matter of cost. Boehly may not particulalry care about imposing any kind of limit on his expenditure, but those pesky buzzkills at Financial Fair Play eventually will, and even at his steepest, the Brentford striker would fetch around £80 million. That’s not exactly cheap, but it is cheaper. For the £170 million Napoli are demanding, Chelsea could bring in two Toneys. It’d be like series five of The Sopranos.

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Then, of course, there is the fact that Toney knows the Premier League, and has proven himself as a consistent goalscorer in the division over the past few years. Last season, only Erling Haaland and Harry Kane scored more than him in the top flight, and in total, he has averaged just shy of a goal every other game since making the step up from the Football League. If ever there was a player deserving of his shot with a traditional top six side, it is the 27-year-old.

And while it is the problematic, habitual belief that Chelsea are only ever one signing away from finally seeing results that has led them to spend so much and achieve so little, where Toney is concerned, it might actually be the case that he is the missing piece. A good goalscorer can make all kinds of a difference, especially if they are coming into a side who are otherwise primed to thrive. As far as attacking talent is concerned, the Blues are not exactly short of heft. What they do need, however, is somebody who can put the ball in the back of the net on a near-weekly basis. And few carry out that particular task better than Ivan Toney.

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