Thomas Tuchel teased Chelsea fans over the club’s interest in Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland on Saturday, declaring ahead of the 1-0 win over West Ham that they expect more from their forwards amid a disappointing goal return this term.
The Blues’ hopes of competing for the Premier League title this season under Frank Lampard were undermined by the disappointing output of the attacking talent they recruited last summer.
Lampard paid the price for the struggles of Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech with his job and since Thomas Tuchel arrived as his replacement in January, the Londoners have been much improved.
Chelsea have a Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid to look forward to and will also contest the FA Cup final against Leicester at Wembley next month.
In the Premier League, the win over West Ham at the London Stadium on Saturday – thanks to Werner’s first-half finish – also puts them in pole position to secure Champions League football for next season.
Yet despite the upturn in results under Tuchel, Chelsea have still regularly struggled in the final third, a 4-1 thrashing of Crystal Palace in early April aside.
But speaking ahead of the short trip to West Ham, Tuchel made it clear that Chelsea expect much more from their forward line, amid reports that they will push hard to sign Haaland from Dortmund in the summer.
The Norway international, 20, is wanted by almost all of the biggest clubs across Europe after producing 37 goals and 11 assists in 38 games this season, to go with 16 goals and three assists in 18 Dortmund outings last term.
Haaland has established himself as the hottest young centre-forward in world football with his blistering goal return in Germany and Dortmund are desperate not to lose their No 9 this summer, purposefully slapping a prohibitive £130million transfer price tag on his head.
But Chelsea are set to rival Manchester United and Manchester City, as well as Real Madrid and Barcelona, to try and sign Haaland this summer in spite of that valuation, which would smash the Premier League transfer record.
And Tuchel, in conversation with Sky Sports in the build-up to West Ham, appeared to confirm those intentions by admitting the Londoners are in need of a ruthless and productive finisher – which Haaland certainly is – to take them to the next level.
He suggested that Chelsea do not have a 20-plus-goal-a-season attacker in their squad at present despite Werner’s brilliant return in the Bundesliga with Leipzig before his move to Stamford Bridge.
The German boss said: “We need more goals and we rely on anybody and we want to trust anybody who is capable of scoring.
“But you just need to read the numbers, our top scorers have six goals. This is clearly not enough for the demands, the expectations and the targets Chelsea Football Club has and what we demand.
“I say this without any anger and without being rude to any of the offensive guys, I think they’re very well aware of it.
“But when we put the goalkeeper in goal for Chelsea we expect him to have a clean sheet. When we let the defenders play, we expect them to produce clean sheets and the best possible outcome straight away.
MORE PREMIER LEAGUE NEWS…
Jurgen Klopp slams Liverpool stars for Newcastle draw with CL warning
Manchester United identify £15m bargain transfer replacement for Cavani
Liverpool owners FSG snubbed £3bn takeover offer before ESL drama
“And this is what we expect from the midfielders, we expect passing percentage, we expect the rhythm of the game. And when we put strikers in we expect goals and assists and nothing else.
“This is one of the most challenging clubs in European football, and if the challenge is on you simply need to accept that we didn’t produce the kind of numbers that we expect from our strikers.
“This explains a little bit the situation in which we are in. We don’t struggle to have touches in the opponent’s box, we do not struggle to produce Expected Goals but we need to improve on the conversion, this is clear.
“We try to create even more chances for them to have more clear chances… don’t get me wrong they are clearly part of a very successful team and they play their role also in defence and counter-pressing.
“But still sometimes we wait a little bit for somebody to catch the momentum, and score game after game after game after game, which could be an extraordinary help.
“But it does not help to wish for something that does not exist, so we try to make the most of the situation as it is now but this is the pressure you live up to naturally when you sign up for Chelsea.”
Werner’s goal against West Ham was his sixth in the Premier League this season and takes him to 23 direct goal involvement in 42 appearances since a move from RB Leipzig in the region of £50million.
But the Germany international’s catalogue of missed chances this season means Chelsea want a more prolific forward to strengthen their push for the Premier League title next term.
Should Tuchel stick to his current tactical set-up, Werner will then likely act as the left-sided forward flanking the central striker. It remains to be seen what comes of Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud’s futures in west London however.