Newspaper reports suggest that Jose Mourinho is still undecided about which strikers will join Diego Costa (whose signing STILL hasn’t been confirmed, by the way) in Chelsea’s squad for next season. The latest rumours seem to be leaning towards Swansea’s Wilfried Bony, QPR’s Loic Remy and our very own Romelu Lukaku.
It’s thought Mourinho will wait until after the World Cup to make his decision. All three will, of course, be at the tournament with their respective national sides – Ivory Coast, France and Belgium. If any one of them produces stellar performances in Brazil, that may make them the front-runner – or alternatively, it might push their price tag up to a level that makes it unrealistic for a back-up striker.
Bony hit an impressive 25 goals for Swansea last season, in his first year in the Premier League. His scoring record the season before, for the Dutch side Vitesse, was even more outstanding – 37 goals at more than a goal a game, admittedly in the Eredivisie which is not known for its world-class defending.
It’s unlikely Bony will still be at Swansea by the end of August. He’s understandably after a move to a club playing in the Champions League, and has apparently described a transfer to Chelsea as “a dream”. But Arsenal are in the hunt for him too. Their style of play may suit him better, and as he would be their first-choice striker, they may be more prepared to pay if his price goes up to, say, £25 million.
Remy, who spent last season on loan to Newcastle and scored 14 times, will also almost certainly be on the move, despite QPR’s promotion to the Premier League. He’s now spent a season and a half in England and has settled well, scoring some eye-catching goals for both the clubs he’s played for.
It’s thought Remy has an £8m release clause in his QPR contract and so would be considerably cheaper than Bony, allowing money to be freed up for Mourinho to make other squad purchases. On the other hand, at 27 he is the oldest of the trio under consideration. And he is arguably the most inconsistent, hot patches of form alternating with periods where he’d have trouble hitting a barn door.
The reasons why we should keep Lukaku have been set out recently on the pages of this very website. To summarise, he’s young, improving and has shown he can score prolifically in the Premier League (that last point really being the crucial one).
The main worries about Lukaku are that he isn’t quite top quality, and that his relationship with Mourinho is prickly to say the least. It’s still unclear whether Lukaku demanded to be loaned out last season, or whether he was sent against his wishes. It’s also unclear whether Mourinho has forgiven the Belgian for claiming that the manager had refused to guarantee him first-team football if he stayed. Whether this relationship would survive a whole season of him being played as a back-up striker, and coming off the bench a lot, remains to be seen.