Target men and Antonio Conte – Chelsea’s latest conundrum

For all the criticism coming Chelsea’s way at the moment, they are still in the race for the top four, still in the Champions League, a game away from a League Cup final and still in the FA Cup.

Sure, it’s not been a golden year for the Blues but they’ve had worse in recent times and it would appear they’re not many players away from having a side Antonio Conte can work with once again.

Some of his signings recently have appeared a bit desperate, for sure, and others perhaps were not players he wanted particularly to arrive.

But, there is a clear strategy he’s looking to implement before this month’s Deadline Day, and that’s that he wants a new target man.

Alvaro Morata has done well this season at times, but he does look tired – arguably because he’s not really played a full season as a first choice starter that often in his career.

His best spell so far in his time in the game, though, was at Juventus where, perhaps now unsurprisingly, he played off of a big man in Fernando Llorente.

Conte, then, is looking to strike that up again and, with Eden Hazard playing more centrally as a second striker, it’s also clear he wants to utilise the 3-5-2 he played for Italy rather than the 3-4-3 we saw last season with the Blues.

Hazard will obviously drop deeper once a new striker comes in, too, but who should the new arrival be?

Peter Crouch, Olivier Giroud and Andy Carroll have all been touted but they, in all honesty, are desperate choices.

They need a class option to dovetail with Morata and create quite the strike force, then.

For starters, Fernando Llorente would be a good option. He’s not the player he was but he knows Conte, knows the system and knows Morata as well as the Premier League and would fit in quickly.

The sticking point? Tottenham. Spurs surely aren’t going to let him go this soon after arriving – particularly to Chelsea.

Around the leagues, too, target men aren’t exactly leading the way. The closest you’d perhaps get to a player like that is someone who’s not as physically imposing as a Llorente or Carroll, but can use his body well.

Edin Dzeko perhaps springs to mind but he’s having an okay season at best, whilst Edinson Cavani would probably be exceptional but PSG aren’t letting him go any time soon – the same could be said for Gonzalo Higuain at Juventus.

The Blues need a bully up top to help Morata – Diego Costa would have been ideal – but Conte’s pool of options really is small, hence the strange rumours.

Perhaps one man, though, that could do a job is Mario Mandzukic.

The Croatian is 31, he won’t be over-priced, he’s played at the top level for a number of years and Juventus won’t be as averse to him going as someone like Higuain or Paolo Dybala.

As well as that, though, he’s one of the most mobile target men you’ll find. He’s played out wide for Juve before and can therefore work the channels just as well as Morata can whilst he can pin defenders down and hold the ball up.

He might not be the most prolific for Chelsea if he signed but he arguably fits Conte’s system and requirements better than most and would therefore still be worth a punt.

Which target man should Chelsea sign? Let us know! And if you liked this article, take a look at our piece on Jack Rodwell

 

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