There is no escaping from the fact that like last year, the 2023/24 Premier League season has been a disaster for Chelsea.
Despite the influx of new talent and the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino, the Blues still find themselves in ninth and rapidly losing sight of the Champions League places.
However, the Pensioners have made it to the next round of the FA Cup and into the semi-final of the League Cup, so there is still something to play for, which could explain why the club are starting to make waves in the transfer market again.
Several strikers, including Ivan Toney, have been touted for a move to Stamford Bridge this month, but the latest name to be mentioned could prove to be a far better option.
Chelsea eye Ballon d’Or winner to solve goalscoring woes
According to TEAMtalk, Chelsea are on the lookout for a new number nine this month as Nicolas Jackson has been underwhelming so far and is now out of the country for the Africa Cup of Nations.
One of the players who has surprisingly caught Pochettino’s eye is the winner of the 2022 Ballon d’Or, Karim Benzema.
The Frenchman joined Saudi Pro League outfit Al-Ittihad in the summer, although despite scoring nine goals in 15 starts for his new side, it is said that he wants out and a return to Europe this month.
While his supposed desire to leave the Middle East is good news for the Blues, TEAMtalk’s claim that London rivals Arsenal are looking to sign him on a loan deal is not.
Valued at around £24m by Football Transfers’ expected value model, if Chelsea can get ahead of the Gunners on this one, they certainly should, as either on loan or a short-term deal, he represents a bargain compared to the £100m Toney.
How Karim Benzema compares to Ivan Toney
Now, with the sort of form that Toney has shown over the last couple of years and the performances that Benzema has been putting in for close to a decade, Chelsea would be well served by either striker.
Still, there are three key reasons why the latter would be a more intelligent move for the Blues.
The first is the aforementioned price; with a possible loan move, Todd Boehly and Co could sign “the best no.9 in the world” – as he was dubbed by Zinedine Zidane – for a minor fee and his wages. Even if they end up signing him on a permanent deal, it is unlikely that they would have to pay much above his valuation, given his desire to leave Saudi and his age.
Second, while the Brentford ace has been a fantastic top-flight number nine for the last couple of seasons, his track record before that is almost entirely from the lower leagues of English football, and while it is still impressive, it doesn’t hold a candle to Benzema’s record in top-flight football.
The “complete forward”, as Kulig dubbed him, has a remarkable 238 La Liga goals, 43 Ligue 1 goals and 90 Champions League goals to his name, while Toney has just 32 Premier League goals to his name.
Karim Benzema’s Impressive Track Record
Saudi Pro League
All Stats via Transfermarkt
Last but not least, the Englishman has been serving an eight-month ban for betting offences this season. He hasn’t so much as taken part in a training session since May.
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The 25-year-old could fire the Blues back up the table.
While Benzema has been playing in the comparatively weaker Saudi Pro League, he’d be coming into Chelsea up to speed with competitive football, and if Pochettino wants to capitalise on their positions in the domestic cups, having a striker ready to go would be hugely beneficial.
Ultimately, both strikers are fantastic players, and while the Pensioners would be improved by the arrival of either one, it makes a lot more sense for them to sign Benzema given the situation they find themselves in and the Frenchman’s awe-inspiring track record.