Chelsea’s reason not to complete Victor Osimhen transfer in January revealed

Chelsea’s unbelievable reason not to complete Victor Osimhen transfer in January revealed

It wasn’t the lack of a goalscorer that caused Chelsea’s second-half collapse against Newcastle but in different circumstances, Mauricio Pochettino’s men might have been ahead before things went sour. Although Raheem Sterling’s free-kick came from nothing there were still opportunities to make the home side pay, ones that weren’t taken.

Conor Gallagher cut inside well after intercepting Nick Pope’s poor clearance and Enzo Fernandez was thwarted by a brilliant save. On the counter-attack, there were multiple moments that a more clinical side would have taken advantage of but that isn’t Chelsea.

This is a team, remember, that scored eight times in two games against the best sides in the country before the international break. Current first-choice striker Nicolas Jackson got half of those but is still far from the finished article. Despite the 22-year-old proving to be exactly what many would have predicted him to be, the club are turning attention towards finding answers he has been unable to bring.

With just one season of top-flight senior football under his belt it is not surprising that there are runs of form and also barren spells as well. His seven goals is a decent tally at this stage but someone with even slightly more composure or quality could have nearly doubled that, and this is without being too dramatic.

Jackson’s xG underperformance in the league of -2.14 is effectively the same as Burnley, twice more than Nottingham Forest and Wolves, more than Liverpool. He has also been a yellow card collector with seven in his first 12 league games. What Chelsea expected from him is unsure but what they need in order to be closer to the top four/five now is clear.

In two words it is probably Victor Osimhen. The 24-year-old made his return to the pitch for Napoli after missing three weeks with injury. In his 25 minute cameo, he provided the assist for the winner.

Before injury Osimhen had fired in six times in the opening eight games, picking up where he left off last year. As well as being a more readymade complete package Osimhen is also an elite finisher. His 26 goals last term in Serie A came from just 21.3 xG and he is hitting target in 2023/24 so far as well.

These strikers don’t come cheaply though or without competition. Osimhen is expected to cost well over £100million and would likely break the £105million they spent on Enzo Fernandez to make him the most expensive player in league history 11 months ago. Now he is just the second most expensive player but still the biggest mid-season buy.

With contract uncertainty, it is thought that an extension on his current deal ending in 2025 is unlikely given a relationship breakdown with those in Naples, there is a chance on the table, albeit a slim one, that a leading marksman will be available. In January it is him and Ivan Toney that already look set to dominate the market with Arsenal in the mix as well.

It’s too simple to suggest that one will go to north London and the other to the west but it does look like this is a possibility. Both sides want to add a proven goalscorer to their side, want to do it in the next five weeks and have shown in the past year or so that they’re willing to pay for it.

Now the question becomes whether or not the deals are possible. football.london understands that Chelsea certainly think Osimhen is acquirable but a move in January is unlikely. Given that Napoli have Champions League commitments, a big domestic fight on their hands and that European football is far from a certainty at Stamford Bridge, it is understandable to think that Osimhen might not be too keen to transfer into that environment.

What also complicates factors is the African Cup of Nations. Jackson is already set to miss most of January with Senegal almost certain to call him up for the games. His country are the reigning champions and will be out to defend their title, if they do so then it will see Jackson miss games between January 13 and February 11 at minimum.

Osihmen, who has 20 goals in 27 games for Nigeria, will be aiming to spoil that party. He will lead a team made up of some well-known names with the hope to bring glory at AFCON to Wilfred Ndidi, Ola Aina, Frank Onyeka, Joe Aribo, Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon, Samuel Chuwueze, Nathan Tella and Ademola Lookman amongst others.

Not only does this potentially complicate any negotiations in January, but the Telegraph write that he will take precedence over Toney as the top target for a striker and that Osimhen would consider a move too, which creates a question for Chelsea. Replacing Jackson for Osimhen has its merits in the short and possibly long-term, but it also has its pitfalls. However, neither of them will be available for almost all of January regardless.

It does leave four months of the season left to play for but as the Blues found last year there can be a case whereby there is too much to do when the window closes. Things look to be more competitive and positive under Pochettino and there will be a chance to respond and push up the table in the coming weeks and months but whether that is worth paying a premium to sign Osimhen to change is debatable.

On the one hand he might have scored more than Jackson and changed the trajectory of the season but he would also cost significantly more. During January or even into mid-February he would then have to move to England, a new club and a new country to pick up the pace of a new league. At the same time, there is a weight of history against him with strikers, mid-season additions and Chelsea players in general being poor.

It feels like Chelsea are the only side that could sign Osimhen in January so they aren’t exactly losing out if he goes elsewhere, it would just add to the pressure of needing to get a deal done in a more crowded summer market. That or go for Toney but the same is true for him.

Meanwhile, if Osimhen doesn’t join there is more for Armando Broja to do and he has scored once in 2023 – though he has missed almost all of it – and didn’t even shoot for that goal to go in. He is not yet proven as the leader of the line and Christopher Nkunku hasn’t played a game in England yet himself.

This scenario looks like it needs help but Toney can’t play until January 24, Osimhen might not be available until later than that and Jackson could be out for the same period. All of this paints the picture that really the summer is a better place to operate from, it just leaves the chances a little bit more open-ended.

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