Chelsea’s January striker transfer conundrum could swing on the impact of Christopher Nkunku and Armando Broja over the coming weeks.
The Blues have not yet committed to whether they bring in another No.9 option in the new year and the form of the two returning players will help dictate what happens next.
Broja has been easing his way back to fitness from a serious knee problem and is expected to be handed extended game time between now and the end of the month.
And Nkunku, who arrived from RB Leipzig in the summer, is now being prepared for impact at Chelsea as he returns from knee problems sustained during pre-season.
There were indications that he would return to the squad for Sunday’s match with Brighton, and though he ended up missing out, he has been in training ahead of their midweek fixture against Manchester United.
The duo have potential to improve Chelsea’s potency around goal and sources are indicating that while there is still some doubt around Broja’s future, Mauricio Pochettino is a big fan of his style of play.
And Nkunku made such a promising impact in his early showings in the summer that there is every reason to hope he can increase the team’s goals output and help Nicolas Jackson also hit new levels. Pochettino continues to believe Jackson is on the right track to becoming a more reliable goalscorer.
Chelsea have been heavily linked with Napoli’s Victor Osimhen and Brentford’s Ivan Toney but sources suggest that as it stands neither of those deals are well advanced.
Osimhen is understood to be keen on this move but it is likely to be on the backburner until the summer, while Brentford are willing to price Toney out of a move for January and even want him to sign a new contract.
Leadership and experience the priorities for Pochettino
With that in mind Chelsea could be forced to consider new short-term alternatives in January if they really do feel the need to inject more goals into the squad.
But that does conflict with their current model and would not aid the development of players they are trying to bed in for the long-term – so this is going to be a big call by the recruitment team.
Pochettino remains confident that this team are building towards a model that can begin to challenge more seriously at the top end of the Premier League in 2024.
In terms of new signings, it is worth noting that sources indicate the boss feels a certain level of leadership and experience is still lacking from the current first-team set-up and that it might be time to address the issue soon so that it does not become a major flaw in the side.