Jose Mourinho has confirmed signing a striker will be the priority for his Chelsea squad in the summer, as they struggle to maintain their title bid.
The Portuguese coach has stated all season long that his side are not ready to win a first Premier League crown since 2010, but as the campaign has played out, they have at times looked more than capable. Indeed, heading into the weekend round of fixtures, they led the standings as they travelled to lowly Crystal Palace on Saturday.
However, a John Terry own-goal handed the Eagles a surprise win and the Blues a successive away defeat, and with Liverpool beating Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, the Reds have moved to the summit. Manchester City, meanwhile, are in third place and just four points adrift, but they also have the comfort of having two matches in hand.
It is clear that the biggest problem for Chelsea this season has been in attack. Whilst the team from Anfield have scored 88 goals and the Etihad Stadium outfit eight less, Mourinho’s side have knocked in 62. And their leading goalscorer is not one of their frontmen, but Belgian international playmaker Eden Hazard who has registered 14.
Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba, meanwhile, have 15 between them, and to make matters worse Romelu Lukaku was sent on loan to Everton and has scored 12 times. So ahead of the summer window, Mourinho has made it blatantly obvious he intends to sign a striker, whilst leaving his existing options sweating on their futures.
“I don’t think it’s the moment to speak about next season and the market but it’s clear to everybody that Chelsea next year wants to bring in a striker,” he said. “What’s the future for the other strikers? The ones who are staying are competing with the striker we are bringing [in]. And normally, at the end of the season, players that are not playing a lot or players who are not happy may prefer a change. That is also part of the market.”
It is unclear if Lukaku, who is still only 20, will be given the chance to forge a career at Stamford Bridge, although many fans would like to see the Belgian given such an opportunity. Mourinho, though, is thought to have set his sights on Spanish international Diego Costa, who has enjoyed a hugely impressive campaign at Atletico Madrid.
The Brazilian-born frontman has scored 33 goals in all competitions, seven of which have come in the UEFA Champions League, as the Vicente Calderon side look to scoop silverware both domestically and abroad at the expense of rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid. Costa, 25, is under contract in the capital until 2018, and would cost around £40million.