Chelsea transfer news: From Romelu Lukaku to Alvaro Morata, which forwards could replace Diego Costa?

We take a look at five forwards the club have been linked to and assess their suitability

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The Independent Football

Diego Costa's Chelsea exit has been all but confirmed after the Spaniard revealed that he is 'no longer wanted' at the club.

According to the forward, manager Antonio Conte told him he no longer features in his plans, thereby opening the door for a summer transfer out of Stamford Bridge.

A return to Atletico Madrid seems the likeliest option but Costa's impending departure now leaves Chelsea desperate to sign a new forward as they look to enhance their Premier League-winning squad for next season.

Here, we take a look at five forwards the club have been linked to in recent weeks and assess their suitability:

Romelu Lukaku

The Belgian forward has long been cited as Antonio Conte’s top transfer target and following the news that Costa is ‘no longer wanted’ at the club, the stage is surely set for a multi-million summer transfer.

Powerful, bullish and instinctive, Lukaku shares many of the same attributes with Costa and would make a fitting replacement for the Spaniard. Given his strength on the ball and ability to harass opponents’ backline, the forward would be more than capable of providing the same sort of service that Costa has done these past three years at Stamford Bridge. And at just 24, the Belgian has years ahead of him with which to hone his trade and improve.

What’s more, The Independent understands that Lukaku has already made up his mind to go to Chelsea, and has turned down Manchester United for a return to the Bridge that will cost upward of £80m. On Tuesday he gave a number of clues to his future while on international duty with Belgium, stating that he “knows what’s happening”. Significant progress has already been made on a move to the new champions so it seems, then, that it’s only a matter of time before the deal is announced.

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Lukaku has emerged as the most likely option for Chelsea (Getty)

Alvaro Morata

Less overwhelming but far more sleek and predatory, Morata makes for a very different striker to Lukaku but would nonetheless greatly enhance Conte’s side. The Spaniard has been linked to the Bridge in recent weeks and news that the player is unhappy with his peripheral role at Real Madrid will be music to Chelsea’s ears. At £50m, he’d make for a cheaper option too.

With his big club pedigree, having played for Juventus and Real over the past seven years, Morata has already proven his worth on Europe’s top stage, scoring in the 2015 Champions League final for Juve. He enjoyed a stellar season the season after, netting 20 times in 43 appearances as Zinedine Zidane’s men won La Liga and the Champions League.

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Morata has been frustrated by a lack of first-team action this year (Getty Images)

And although Morata may lack the bullish power of Lukaku, is superior hold-up play would undoubtedly augment Chelsea’s front line. Questions have been raised over Lukaku’s surety of touch whereas Morata’s tidy work with the ball at feet makes him a better bet. He brings others into play, as indicated by his six assists in his last 1364 minutes. Lukaku has half the assists in more than twice the time. 

Mauro Icardi

Another 24-year-old to have been linked with Chelsea but, with a £96m price-tag on his head, Icardi certainly represents the most expensive option available. Even so, there are signs to suggest that the Argentine could be worth it.

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Icardi's name has dropped off in recent weeks (Getty)

Aggressive and wired like Costa, Icardi has also been blessed with more pace and ability than the Spaniard. And with an instinctive eye for the net – he’s scored 24 goals in 34 league appearances for Inter Milan this term – Icardi is a proven goal-scorer. Assuming Eden Hazard stays at the Bridge next season, there is huge potential to forge a great partnership between the two – one that would be particularly explosive on the counter-attack. 

Icardi’s name has dropped off in recent weeks but don’t be surprised if he enters the fray again once the transfer window opens up.

Andrea Belotti

The Italian has been making waves across the continent, with Manchester United, Chelsea and AC Milan all linked to the forward. Torino face a real right to hold onto their prized possession who scored 31 times for club and country across the past season. 

Renowned for his hard-working ethic and desire on the pitch, such determination can turn seemingly lost causes into openings for his side while his speed on the ball can unsettle defences. Comparisons with Jamie Vardy have been drawn, but at just 23 years old Belotti has a much brighter future ahead of him.

The forward is only getting better and would make for an assured signing if Chelsea can pip their rivals to the youngster. It’s understood Torino want around £50 for the striker, a figure the Blues would be more than capable of meeting.

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Belotti scored 31 goals for club and country this season (Getty)

Alexis Sanchez

Last but not least, Arsenal’s main man Alexis Sanchez. With just one year left on his current contract, and following reports of disillusionment at the club, the Chilean has subsequently been linked with a move away from the Emirates. 

Chelsea, Manchester City and Bayern Munich have been touted as potential destinations. It’s thought Sanchez has demanded a wage of more than £200,000 a week while the guarantee of Champions League football is another must for the forward. Chelsea can offer both and a move to the Bridge would not require Sanchez to leave his home in London.

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Sanchez's Arsenal future remains unclear (Getty Images)

In terms of style, Sanchez definitely marks a stark contrast to the players above. Quick, creative and energetic, the Chilean would bring a very different set of qualities to Chelsea were he to join. There’s no denying his talent and influence, but there’s questions over whether he’s what the Blues would need. In a team that already boosts flair and technical creativity through the likes of Hazard, Conte needs a striker who can dominate an opponent’s backline to create the space and movement for others. Sanchez thrives as a supplementing forward and lacks the physical attributes needed to bully defenders in the way Lukaku and Costa do. A fantastic player that would certainly improve Chelsea’s star-factor, but not necessarily the right choice.

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