Monday afternoon struck, and Chelsea supporters had a sense of déjà vu. Robert Lewandowski was once again being linked with a move to Stamford Bridge.
It seems to happen almost every summer when the transfer window rolls around. Crucially, though, the move has never even been close, and that could be quite telling this time around.
Of course, Chelsea are interested in the Pole. Who wouldn’t be? With an astonishing 238 goals in 253 Bundesliga games for Bayern Munich since joining the German club in 2014. He’s pretty good.
As Jurgen Klopp recently admitted: “Of course, we’re interested in Kylian [Mbappe]. We’re not blind.” Well, the same goes with Chelsea and Lewandowski. Thomas Tuchel is said to be a huge admirer of the 33-year-old, as per The Guardian, and the Blues ‘could join the race’ for his signature.
Despite this, a move to Barcelona looks to be the one for Lewandowski this summer – and that, ultimately, is the major problem for Chelsea. That’s been the move touted for months now, and some reliable sources around Europe are reporting that the deal is close between the parties.
The Poland international wouldn’t require a massive fee because of his age and his contractual status (which expires in the summer of 2023) at Bayern Munich. He wouldn’t be cheap, though.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Lewandowski would demand a huge weekly wage. With Chelsea already having Romelu Lukaku on their books, which cost almost £100million last summer, having the two of them at the club together does not seem feasible.
There is, of course, the argument that Chelsea should look to offload Lukaku in the upcoming summer transfer window, but as has been shown in the past, underperforming players on such high wages are not easy to get rid of. As well as this, the Belgian has at least shown signs recently that he could offer the Blues and Tuchel something going forward.
There are, of course, alternatives to Lewandowski that might make more sense for Chelsea. Christopher Nkunku of RB Leipzig could be one of them.
The Frenchman recently pipped Lewandowski to the Bundesliga’s Player of the Season award after a sensational campaign with Leipzig. Nkunku finished the season with a remarkable 35 direct goal contributions, averaging over one per match.
Nkunku and Lewandowski are two completely different players who would offer Chelsea benefits. The former is much more creative in the attacking third, while the latter is an out-and-out goal machine. Below, football.london compares their attacking stats from the 2021/22 Bundesliga season.
Nkunku vs Lewandowski
Appearances – Nkunku: 34 / Lewandowski: 34
Goals scored – Nkunku: 20 / Lewandowski: 35
Shots on goal – Nkunku: 40 / Lewandowski: 86
Assists – Nkunku: 15 / Havertz: 4
Nkunku could be the perfect alternative
In all the stats listed above, bar the assists category, Lewandowski is superior. So, why is Nkunku the ideal alternative to the Pole?
The wage problem with Lewandowski would be enough to put even some of European football’s wealthiest clubs off him. Chelsea, when the takeover of the club is announced (whenever that may be), will still not be in a position to offer astronomical wages to the striker, despite his generational talent.
Nkunku makes more sense in terms of he can play anywhere across the front line as well. The Frenchman can be used on either wing or as the number nine in Tuchel’s front three.
football.london understands Chelsea have been scouting Nkunku for some time now and have also done so this season. When the Todd Boehly takeover is announced (fingers crossed), making a move for the Leipzig attacker could well be considered.
There’s, of course, the important factor of his age. Lewandowski is now 33, and Chelsea, if they did indeed make a move for him, would be reluctant to offer him anything over a one-year deal when his wages are taken into consideration. With Nkunku, however, there is the option to offer him a long-term contract at the club, and the wage demands are unlikely to be as out of reach as Lewandowski’s.