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Falcao, Lukaku, and Neymar - Three Chelsea Targets To Signal The End Of Didier Drogba

At the start of last season Didier Drogba looked unstoppable, but a loss of form inflamed by contracting malaria, led to the shock arrival of Fernando Torres. At £24 million the Ivorian was one of Jose Mourinho's marquee signings. He was won the lot domestically, but 'the Drog' has never been able to help Chelsea win the big trophy Abrahamovic craves, the Champions League.

The signing of Fernando Torres, 27, indicated that the Chelsea regime is firmly looking to the future, which means one thing for Drogba, 33, he cannot expect to hold down a starting spot week-in week-out.

With talented Englishman Daniel Sturridge waiting in the wings, and Solomon Kalou playing a useful bit-part player role, if Chelsea splash the millions on another striker, it almost certainly means the end for Drogba.

So who will Chelsea be looking to sign this summer? Can they replicate Drogba's success? Hereisthecity.com runs the rule over three men capable of doing what Didier did, and more...


Falcao

Radamel Falcao is a Colombian striker who struck a record 17 times in last season's Europa league.

The obvious link which makes him a likely Chelsea target is the fact their new manager, is Andre Villas-Boas, Falcao's coach at Porto last season.

You might think Porto would be reluctant to sell, but the Portuguese club have a reputation for buying cheap and selling big, and have already announced fellow striker Hulk as the man they are desperate to hang onto.

The 25-year-old striker is thought to be available for around £26 million, but this price could increase if other European clubs start a bidding war.

Rivals for his signature include Real Madrid, Inter Milan, and even Tottenham, but the lack of Champions League football means such a move is unlikely.

Manchester United could launch a bid if they decide to trade in Dimitar Berbatov and continue their spending spree.

Falcao is near enough the complete striker, capable of scoring with either foot, and with his head, and would be expected to have no trouble adapting to the Premier League.

His scoring record compares with the best, 39 in 87 games for former club River Plate, and 41 goals in 50 games for Porto.

He bagged four goals in one Europa League semi-final match against Villareal last season, and his goals per game ratio exceeds that of a certain Didier Drogba, when he signed at Stamford Bridge.


Lukaku

Hailed as the leading light of Belgian football, Romelo Lukaku has a striking physical resemblance to Didier Drogba, even aged only 18.

He was netting goals for club side Anderlecht aged just 16, and scored his first two international goals against Russia earlier this year.

Time will tell if Lukaku continues his progression and becomes one of the world's best strikers, and a move to one of Europe's top clubs beckons.

Anderlecht's manager confirmed the club were in negotiations with Chelsea earlier this month, and he has previously been linked with Real Madrid, and big spending Manchester City.

It is unclear for what sort of money Anderlecht will allow him to leave for, Chelsea would be signing potential, and not the finished product, and such transfers are difficult to quantify.

However it is likely he will not be as expensive as the £35vmillion Liverpool paid for Andy Carroll, with anything from £16 million to £30 million mooted.

At six foot three, his physical style and future potential makes him the ideal replacement for Didier Drogba. He has 31 goals in 71 senior games, but famously netted 131 goals in 93 games at youth level.

If Lukaku signs, his arrival will no doubt hasten the end of Drogba's time at Chelsea, but Drogba could be persuaded to stay on for a season in a mentoring role, as there would no doubt be a great amount Lukaku could learn from the positive sides of his game.

Whether the egotistical Drogba will want to be part of such a public 'passing of the torch' is doubtful, and at his age, he will be pushing for a club where he can still be the star man.


Neymar

The mohawk haired Brazilian has been described by the five-times World Cup winners as their very own Lionel Messi.

Like Lukaku, he has been linked with a move to Chelsea since he started playing professional football, but as each transfer window passes, the vociferousness of the rumour mill increases.

Neymar, just 19, will clearly leave Brazil one day to test his talents in Europe, but the thriving Brazilian economy means clubs in the country can now hold onto their players at home for longer, able to demand bigger prices for their top stars.

Neymar is no doubt the biggest star in Brazil, and is now established as the country's top striker. There were nearly riots when Dunga left him out of last year's World Cup squad, and when the team was knocked out in the quarter finals, new coach Mano Menezes picked him in their next friendly, and he proceeded to score.

His star was confirmed with two deadly strikes against Scotland at the Emirates this year, and he is expected to be the powerhouse country's main star when they host the 2014 World Cup.

His club Santos have already stated they want a minimum of £30 million, but in the current transfer market, £40 million looks more likely.

Chelsea, by signing him, would benefit commercially too, the attention-seeking Neymar brings with him a tonne of advertising deals, being touted as Brazil's David Beckham, all of which means his transfer price escalates.

On the pitch he has scored 27 times in 64 games, which compares pretty evenly with Lukaku, although one could argue the Brazilian league is a higher standard than the Belgian.

Just this month he won the Libertadores, South America's Champions League, netting in the first leg, but showed an unsavoury part of his game, brawling and stamping on an opponent after the final whistle.

Goals, controversy, and histrionics? Sounds like the perfect replacement for Didier Drogba.


Image: © Ben Sutherland

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