How Chelsea could line up with Erling Haaland amid £150m transfer links

Will Chelsea sign a striker this summer?

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Chelsea are stepping up their efforts to sign a striker in the summer transfer window and Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland remains their top target. The Norwegian could cost somewhere in the region of £150million, with Manchester City also interested in the striker.

Thomas Tuchel has worked wonders in his short time at the helm, transforming Chelsea’s leaky defence into a sturdy, impenetrable wall which was key to their unexpected Champions League success.

But the 48-year-old will know that in attack his side have a lot of room for improvement.

Jorginho finished as the club’s top goalscorer in the Premier League with seven goals — all from the penalty spot — beating Timo Werner, Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount, who all scored six.

It was an unusual scenario for the Blues, who had spent a cool £118m on German attackers Werner and Kai Havertz, only to see the pair struggle in the early months of their careers.

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This goes some way to suggesting why Haaland has been targeted, with the 20-year-old finding the net 41 times in as many appearances in 2020-21.

It appears to be a straight fight between Chelsea and Man City for the former Red Bull Salzburg star, with Dortmund’s asking price putting off the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United.

It remains to be seen how Tuchel plans to build his side around Haaland, as the German has favoured the balance of a 3-4-2-1 setup this season.

That leaves only three attacking spots up for grabs between Haaland, Werner, Havertz and Mason Mount.

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It remains possible that Chelsea could revert to the 4-3-3 formation that served them well in Frank Lampard’s first season in charge.

But with the back five performing to a high standard, Tuchel may be wary of upsetting the balance in defence.

Edouard Mendy is the Blues’ undisputed number one in between the sticks following an impressive debut campaign in England.

In front of him are three centre-backs comprising of Antonio Rudiger, who has been revitalised under Tuchel, Thiago Silva and captain Cesar Azpilicueta.

However, it remains a possibility that Reece James could replace 31-year-old Azpilicueta as the right-sided centre-back, after being moved there towards the end of the season.

At left wing-back, Ben Chilwell has nailed down the spot ahead of Marcos Alonso, while Emerson Palmieri looks poised to seal a move back to Italy.

On the opposite wing, Chelsea have a number of options. James could continue where he featured 25 times last season, while Azpilicueta, Callum Hudson-Odoi and even Christian Pulisic have been trialled there.

But speculation persists that Achraf Hakimi could make a £56m transfer from Inter Milan with the Serie A club keen to sell to alleviate their financial concerns.

The 24-year-old is also wanted by PSG, who are more than capable of matching Chelsea’s financial muscle, and the Morocco international may feel he has a better chance of featuring regularly at Parc des Princes.

N’Golo Kante occupies the role of Chelsea’s ball winner and box-to-box operator with a holding midfielder, either Jorginho or Mateo Kovacic, next to him.

The very fact that Tuchel has also used Mount as a ‘no.6’ alongside Kante on occasion suggests he could be thinking of ways to bring another attacker into his lineup.

Mount’s contributions of seven goals and nine assists in all competitions do not do justice to the impact, both in terms of work rate and creative influence, he has on the team.

But moving him back into central midfield may allow Chelsea to dictate play better and, more importantly, free up a position for Haaland to slot into.

Werner and Havertz have been regular fixtures in Tuchel’s lineups, playing from the left and through the middle respectively.

But if Haaland were to sign for the European champions, it could push 22-year-old Havertz out onto the right to accommodate the towering striker.

It is a position the Germany international has become accustomed to, playing from the right in the 1-0 defeat to France on Tuesday.

It could enable Tuchel to squeeze what would be his record signing into his favoured role to spearhead the attack and help Chelsea challenge for the domestic title.

Chelsea possible starting XI in 2021-22:

Edouard Mendy; Reece James, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger; Achraf Hakimi, N’Golo Kante, Mason Mount, Ben Chilwell; Kai Havertz, Erling Haaland, Timo Werner.

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