Chelsea New boss Enzo Maresca has his own Julian Alvarez at Chelsea 

Chelsea New boss Enzo Maresca has his own Julian Alvarez at Chelsea

Other than Diego Costa, Tammy Abraham is the only striker to score more than Nicolas Jackson’s 14 Premier League goals for Chelsea since Didier Drogba’s remarkable 2009/10 season. Across his first year in English football, the Senegal international actually managed more from open play than Cole Palmer.

Whereas Palmer outperformed his xG by four, Jackson underperformed his by the same amount. The only players with a higher xG than Jackson in the entire league were Dominic Solanke (19 goals), Alexander Isak (21 goals), Mohamed Salah (18 goals), and Erling Haaland (27 goals).

It was a massively promising season for the 22-year-old, especially when it is considered that he had to hold the fort with injuries to Christopher Nkunku and Armando Broja at the start of the year. Broja’s struggle to get back to fitness or find form, plus his eventual January exit, put even more of a load on him.

He carried it well. Not necessarily consistently or without deeply frustrating moments for him personally and the fans watching, but certainly nobly and with honesty. Jackson can never be judged to have given less than his all, even when that didn’t transpire to clinical finishing.

But heading into his second year in English football, and just a second full season of playing as a centre-forward in senior football, Chelsea continue to look for new options up front. Whether it is because Nkunku is not seen as a No.9 – probably wisely – or if Jackson is not seen as someone able to reproduce these levels and improve, it is not clear.

With European football to contend with in 2024/25 and the arrival of a manager in Enzo Maresca who has different demands of his strikers than Mauricio Pochettino, it is still an area that Chelsea want more depth in.

Benjamin Sesko is a player on their radar – someone who has been the target of attention for longer than Maresca has been a senior coach – but new reports around Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez have emerged. The Argentine forward is said to be keen on playing more minutes in important matches, and Chelsea are listed – alongside Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid – as teams monitoring the player.

Why? Well, Alvarez is extremely adaptable. He was signed as a striker but very much in the shadow of Erling Haaland, and has already played 100 times for City since arriving in the summer of 2022.

He’s a treble-winner with 34 goals and 15 assists to his name, and can play pretty much anywhere. Pep Guardiola uses him more often as a No.10 and even in deeper midfield in system at the Etihad Stadium, but Alvarez was still able to deputise as a more orthodox No.9 as well.

At 24 he has proven to be extremely durable, starting 31 league games last season, appearing in all but two matches. He played the third-most league minutes in the squad for outfielders. He was one of three players to hit double figures for goals (11) and also managed eight assists.

So this is the player Chelsea could be eyeing up. Able to link play from deep but also run in behind when given space, Alvarez is a solid if not remarkable finisher. There’s a lot to like.

The issue is, when comparing him to Jackson there actually isn’t much difference. Alvarez, last season, took more shots per90, had marginally better passing accuracy, was a more regular provider, and made less turnovers. However, his non-penalty xG was only narrowly better, dribbles and self-created shots were significantly lower than Jackson’s, as was his xG per shot.

Although it doesn’t tell the full story, and how both Jackson and Alvarez would translate into Maresca’s system isn’t cut and dry, there is enough overlap to question the necessity for this type of deal. Maresca never plays with two strikers – it is something he has vowed not to turn to – and they have such a similar stylistic profile on paper that there wouldn’t be a point of difference.

Sesko, for his rawness and flaws at the age of 20, is taller, quicker, and more brutal – if not efficient – with his shots. He is something totally separate to Jackson and Alvarez in profile.

Whereas perhaps the easier comparison for a City forward moving to Chelsea would be Cole Palmer, it is Jackson that is closer to Alvarez, and raises the questions. How the Blues act will certainly give plenty away as to their intentions.

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