The £60m lethal striker deal Chelsea could swoop in on – but only if Conor Gallagher goes to Spurs

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Chelsea need to sign a striker, but their transfer deadline dealings rely on a chain reaction which may only start if they sell Conor Gallagher.

Chelsea need a new number nine – just about everyone knows and understands this, most especially Chelsea themselves. It’s why they’ve been linked with a bid for just about every striker in Europe with a pair of boots and a pulse.

Tottenham Hotspur find themselves in the same boat. Son Heung-Min has done a fine job of filling in up front, but nobody really sees his future as a central striker when he offers so much on the left wing, and in any case – he isn’t Harry Kane. This explains why one of the players both clubs have reportedly been sniffing around over the course of January is the Premier League’s third top-scorer, Dominic Solanke.

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Bournemouth, meanwhile, are not especially keen to sell their star striker, not when his 12 league goals have been central to a massive turnaround in form following a terrible start to life under new head coach Andoni Iraola, and not when their Premier League status is still far from assured. As such, they’ve allegedly slapped a £60m asking price on their star striker, assuming this would be enough to deter potential suitors. It seems to have worked on Spurs, at least.

Which is where this convoluted web of transfer rumours comes full circle – part of the reason that Spurs have apparently decided against snapping up Solanke is that they may well make a last-gasp bid to secure the services of Conor Gallagher, who Chelsea value at £60m but are also keen to sell in order to fund future transfer spending. And such funds would primarily be spent on a striker, which is where Solanke could yet come in.

Bournemouth have not yet received any concrete offers for their main goalscorer, but that could change if Gallagher departs. Chelsea would have the funds and then a decision to make, with minimal time in which to make it – do they hold their powder and save their cash to make a summer splash and try to buy a stone-cold superstar like Victor Osimhen? Or do they do their business now, now, now and sign someone who may not be as exciting on paper but who has proven the ability to score goals in the English top flight?

It’s pretty common knowledge that Napoli will only sell their Nigerian striker for the fullness of his release clause, which stands at over £110m. That stance may soften slightly in the summer with Osimhen apparently keen to move on from Campania, but he will still set a suitor back something close to double the price needed to sign Solanke – and while Osimhen tore Serie A to pieces last season, he has netted just eight goals over the course of this campaign compared to the 13 Solanke has in total.

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You would have to spend quite a few hours wandering the streets of West London before you found a Chelsea fan who would be quite so excited at the prospect of signing Solanke as they would at the idea of getting their hands on a forward who was one of the best in the world over the course of the 2022/23 season, but the idea may have merit. Solanke initially struggled under the weight of hype and expectation after leaving Chelsea’s academy back in 2017, but now, aged 26, he has come firmly into his own.

He has developed into a fine centre-forward, with the kind of late off-ball movement that makes him a headache to mark and calm, composed finishing. Only Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah have scored more goals or generated more expected goals. He has, quite simply, been one of the best number nines in the Premier League over the past six months, and there is little to suggest that his form owes anything to luck rather than skill and sound judgement.

There are alternatives, of course. Lille’s Jonathan David has been mentioned in dispatches, and his supposed price tag is in the region of £40m, and his scoring record over recent seasons has been deeply impressive. They may not even need to sell Gallagher to make this happen if they can get the requisite funds from Albanian forward Armando Broja, who has failed to impress at Stamford Bridge but has nevertheless been given a hefty £50m price tag with Fulham apparently interested. The likelihood remains, however, that Broja will leave on an initial loan, which would likely mean that the funds required to sign a striker and remain on the right side of the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules would not arrive until the summer.

Solanke is probably not as good at Osimhen. He doesn’t have as broad of a skillset, doesn’t have the devastating turn of pace, and doesn’t have the same ability to surge past defenders from deep positions. There’s a reason the Nigerian will command a more substantial fee despite not finding the same sort of goalscoring form as he did when Napoli won the Scudetto so recently. So the argument for signing Solanke – or David, or Serhiou Guirassy, or any other striker whose name has cropped up over the past few weeks – is that the need for goals is urgent, and that signing someone who will hit double figures over the second half of the season will materially impact Chelsea’s chances of qualifying for Europe or winning some silverware.

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Short-termism dictates that Chelsea should make a bid for Solanke. The long view says that this season is halfway to a wash already, and it would be better to buy the very best come the summer. Either way, nothing will happen unless a player leaves, but a single departure will give Chelsea the chance to ask the question of Bournemouth, and while it might not be the right question, it wouldn’t be a stupid one either.

Of course, Bournemouth may well just say no, anyway. In which case, let’s hope that Osimhen still likes the look of a new life in London, and maybe Spurs can come back in for Solanke in June. Solanke’s future is unlikely to lie at the Vitality Stadium for all that much longer, but his direction relies upon chains of dominoes falling which could go in any direction you can think of.

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