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The Search For A Treasure: Chelsea’s Pursuit of an Elite Striker

The Search For A Treasure: Chelsea’s Pursuit of an Elite Striker

Kai Iliev Kai Iliev

The irony of Chelsea’s situation will always amaze football fans. Despite Todd Boehly’s lavish spending spree since his arrival, the club’s quarry is still full of shortcomings. 

One of the most glaring issues in the squad composition is the lack of a reliable, prolific centre-forward. Nicolas Jackson was purchased from Villarreal, but the forward is still finding it difficult to score regularly in the Premier League, an indication that Chelsea may need to delve into the striker market once more.


Chelsea’s Need for a New Striker

The appointment of Pep Guardiola disciple Enzo Maresca will force The Blues to scour the market. Nicolas Jackson was the chosen man up front in the previous season, but his poor record leaves many thinking about his reliability. 

In 35 games, Jackson scored 14 goals, coupled with 5 assists. While the raw numbers may not appear disastrous, they are far off from the prolific standards that the Blues require from their striker. There were no foxes in the box available as Chelsea did not hire any serious alternative to the ex-Villarreal striker. 

Jackson’s Troubles

The lack of a companion for Nicolas Jackson reveals two things about Chelsea’s poor squad planning. Firstly, the shortcomings of Chelsea’s scouting department. Jackson was always a striker who thrived in a specific environment where he was never the sole focal point of attacks. 

The Senegalese star was never the type to dominate the opposition on a physical level. If he could not dominate physically in La Liga, chances were that this record would only worsen in the Premier League.

In general, the English methodology focuses more on physical and athletic traits than Spanish academies and clubs. This meant that Jackson would not have a physical edge in England, which quickly became noticeable after his arrival at Chelsea.

All attention was focused on Jackson as Mykhaylo Mudryk was still adapting to life in London, often needlessly losing the ball. 

Cole Palmer is the only regular partner of Jackson who consistently performed. This is in stark contrast with his last season at Villarreal, where Baena or Terrats regularly provided him with a steady stream of chances. It was a far cry from his nouveau cuisine at Chelsea, where the service was found drastically wanting. The striker received fewer chances than in Spain, and it took its toll on his performances.

Undoubtedly, Jackson’s underwhelming transition is a problem of mentality and a lack of individual care from Chelsea’s staff. It is risky to hire only one starting striker, especially when this striker is still so young and has just switched leagues. Jackson went from one of the most organized teams – with Unai Emery leading the Yellow Submarine – to Mauricio Pochettino’s haphazard environment at Chelsea.

The stats back up the on-pitch struggles. Sofascore data shows Jackson underperformed his 18.64 expected goals tally by 4.64. While this metric is not always the best indicator, it shows that Jackson had his chances but struggled to finish them. 

Striking Requirements For The New Campaign

It’s evident that Chelsea need to recruit a confident, physically imposing striker. Jackson lacks stature and muscle and, therefore, is not solid enough in his duels. 

The new striker will need to be stronger and able to strike the ball from any angle. 

Profiles like Lois Openda and Benjamin Šeško fit the bill. They are young players whose flair and ball-striking have allowed them to score plenty of goals during the Bundesliga season. In an ideal scenario, Chelsea would prise Victor Osimhen from Napoli’s clutches. The Blues need a leader in the frontline, as the top scorer of last season was Cole Palmer, who also played the role of playmaker. 

There are two options: Either Chelsea will sign another striker to allow Jackson to play a double-striker system, or he will be replaced by a striker who can handle all the pressure of scoring by himself. 

These players need to be strong mentally, and the problem is that Chelsea’s chaotic situation makes it difficult to convince top-class players to come to the club. 

Unclarity Reigns Following Maresca’s Arrival

A major obstacle clouding Chelsea’s striker pursuit is the uncertainty surrounding Enzo Maresca’s tactical preferences and philosophy. Although he might prefer some of the aforementioned targets like Openda or Šeško, there are no guarantees until he concludes his full squad assessment and outlines his grocery list of required additions. 

However, how much Maresca will have to say in Chelsea’s transfer strategy remains unclear. Although it is unlikely that Mareca’s opinion will be leading, Todd Boehly could surprise the world. 

The clock is ticking, and the race for the best strikers between Premier League clubs is always tight while the supply shrinks every year. Before Chelsea start shopping, it would need the approval of Maresca – harmony is needed. 

New managers are typically backed with high-profile recruits to mould their team, but Maresca’s arrival is too recent to expect any defined striker prototype.

Squad Planning Obstacles

Another important question is who Jackson, or the possible new striker, could be teamed up with.

Ideally, Chelsea hires more or better wingers, who in turn create advantageous conditions for Jackson. However, the harsh reality is that the transfer market’s supply lines are drying up while Premier League rivals circle the same limited pool of elite attacking talent.

Furthermore, the feasibility of the operation, especially in terms of FFP (Financial Fair Play), is another concern.

The club cannot afford to overlook this factor, which could completely change the course of Chelsea’s project.

If Jackson is given less responsibility and is not considered the primary threat up front, the narrative could shift dramatically. It’s not surprising that Jackson may have felt the pressure to consistently score, a burden he likely did not anticipate upon his arrival in London.

Jackson’s Mentality Under The Microscope

If Chelsea are serious about allowing Maresca to flourish, addressing the frontline appears an immediate priority. But which profile represents the optimal solution?

Chelsea must examine Jackson’s physical and mental state. Has the pressure and burden of leading the line affected his development? Could his lack of physicality and stature make him unsuitable to spearhead Maresca’s attack? An honest self-assessment is required.

This underlines the complexity of Chelsea’s crossroads. If they fail to address their issues, any expensive new recruit would drown in the same toxic environment as Jackson. 

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