It’s now common knowledge that Chelsea are chasing Erling Haaland. Last week, the Blues’ approach for the Borussia Dortmund marksman was revealed, but they had a cash plus player approach rebuffed.
What next if Chelsea don’t sign Haaland? [Pulse Contributor's Opinion]
Thomas Tuchel’s team desire a centre-forward, but Borussia Dortmund are unwilling to let go of their prized asset.
Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi were the names mentioned, but the report suggests the German outfit are unwilling to consider any deal for the hotshot.
In a sense, you understand why BVB are reluctant to entertain bids from the West London club. Haaland packs a punch, evidenced by an incredible scoring record since moving from Red Bull Salzburg in January 2020.
Last season, the Norwegian netted 27 Bundesliga goals in as many starts and netted higher than anyone in the Champions League with 10 goals, despite exiting in the quarter-finals.
Since the start of 2019/20, the 20-year-old ranks second for CL goals scored (20), big chance conversion rate (78.3 percent) and shooting accuracy (69.8%) while he tops for minutes per goal (62.9) and shot conversion rate (42.6%).
Losing Jadon Sancho to Manchester United, in a deal that will be official soon, means: Die Borussen wouldn’t want to lose two hugely important players in the same window and also can play hardball in negotiations for their star striker.
This is far from ideal for the European Champions whose desire for a prolific frontman was evident last season.
Timo Werner bore most of the brunt in his debut campaign in the Premier League in which he missed several presentable chances throughout the season. Despite offering a lot to the team — he ranked sixth for shot-creating actions per 90 and second behind only Callum Hudson-Odoi for goal-creating actions — the forward, signed to score goals, was particularly underwhelming.
The Germany star missed a staggering 18 big chances in the Premier League alone — only four players missed more — and massively underperformed his Expected Goals. Scoring only six PL strikes from 11.9xG, the Chelsea attacker's underperformance was the greatest in the English top flight in 2020/21.
Having said that, the Blues’ poor return in front of goal represents a broader team issue that has plagued the club in the last two seasons under Frank Lampard and, recently, Thomas Tuchel.
Interestingly, Chelsea fell short in front of goal in the legend’s debut season, scoring 69 times from 76.23xG, thus underperforming by 7.23 — the highest underperformance in the top half. Their defensive and goalkeeping woes also led to the concession of an inordinate number of goals, which nearly foiled their top-four chase.
In essence, the five-time Premier League winners should have comfortably finished third in 19/20, rather than battle for a Champions League spot until the final day of the season.
There was a similar pattern last year, despite the Blues’ European success.
A perfect example to demonstrate their goalscoring malaise was in gameweek 38’s trip to Aston Villa on the final day. Needing a win to guarantee finishing in the top four, Tuchel’s team were beaten 2-1 by Dean Smith’s troops and had to rely on Tottenham Hotspur defeating Leicester City 4-2.
Particularly noteworthy on the day was Chelsea excessively missing promising chances. The visitors failed to convert six of their seven clear-cut chances, nearly costing a place in Europe’s premier club competition, although they had a CL final against Manchester City to come at the time.
Interestingly, Werner missed none. Kai Havertz (two), Mason Mount (two), Christian Pulisic and Ben Chilwell contrived to fail to convert against the Villans.
In their CL semi-final second-leg against Real Madrid a few weeks earlier, the Stamford Bridge outfit failed to put away five of their seven big chances. Again, the former RB Leipzig marksman wasn’t culpable on the night; rather, Havertz (three), Mount and N’Golo Kante were unsuccessful.
While this doesn’t totally absolve the speedy German, it points to a broader Chelsea problem, rather than a Werner issue alone.
In that sense, you wonder how much Haaland wholly solves their problems. Admittedly, the Norway superstar’s preceding numbers imply Tuchel’s attack could be a beneficiary of his undoubted talent and end product, still, the probability of signing the marksman for the reported €175m asking price appears slim.
After largely average campaigns for Werner and Havertz, there’s a sense (or perhaps hope) that season two won’t be as topsy-turvy as their debut season.
The 25-year-old out-performed his expected goals in his final two campaigns at Leipzig, while there was a slight underperformance in 17/18 (he netted 13 Bundesliga goals from 14.4xG). Perhaps last year was simply an anomaly or mean reversion.
After a slow start, Havertz was beginning to show promise in the second half of the campaign, particularly in a central striking role, although there are doubts over his season-long consistency.
Abraham, by and large Chelsea’s most adept finisher was frozen out mysteriously under Tuchel, but his instincts in front of goal could be beneficial to the German tactician. It questions the logic of reportedly including the towering centre-forward in the aforementioned informal Haaland bid, while West Ham and Aston Villa are said to be interested in the £40 million-rated Englishman.
The West Londoners are rumoured to be considering a move for Southampton’s Danny Ings, but the 28-year-old’s chequered injury history may discourage a serious bid. Interestingly, however, the striker featured in all 38 games in 19/20, starting 32 times.
There’ll be the obvious disappointment of not signing Haaland, especially given the capital club's previous tendency to fail to build from a position of strength. However, there seems to be ample talent at Chelsea on paper to thrive in front of goal and improve significantly on last year where Jorginho (seven) was the top scorer.
Indeed, maybe getting the best out of the talent they already have could be the answer, as opposed to throwing even more money at their perceived goalscoring issues.
Seye Omidiora is a passionate football writer and pundit whose deep appreciation for the beautiful game exceeds the usual. He is currently a columnist for Goal Africa and has previously written for Vital Football UK, IBCity Info and Opera News.
Follow him on Twitter @theReal_SeyE
Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.
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