In a recent Fanpost by our very own Wheaties Eater, the WAGNH community decided by way of a poll that the type of striker Chelsea needs is a "bus-beater", a forward who specialises in scoring against packed defences.
In general, this is construed to mean a player who excels in tight spaces and possesses either the ability to dribble through a defence (like Luis Suárez or Lionel Messi) or is technically adept enough to be able to manoeuvre his way through a defence with tippy-tappy passing (Lionel Messi or Antonio Di Natale). However, there are a million and one ways to score a goal, and you don't need to be a master technician to be able to score against a deep defence.
A typical Premier League defence that Chelsea faces is almost always a well-drilled one that will not offer too many chances. There are exceptions (Fulham and Manchester United spring to mind) but most teams other than Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool will look to defend deep and snatch a point or three on the break when playing Chelsea. We have been woeful against inferior Premier League opposition this season, being undone by a lack of a genuinely terrifying striker.
I do not agree at all with the notion that Chelsea needs a striker in the mould of Lionel Messi. There are so many ways to score against deep defences, and a player like Messi (or Agüero, or Suárez) would leave us with an obvious plan A, trying to squirm our way through the defence, and little to no plan B or C. Due to the lack of a physical presence up front, we could become horribly predictable, playing exactly like Liverpool played against us.
Long story short, we need someone who can score against packed defences, but not in a way that would make our attack too predictable.
One way to combat a massed defence is to attack them in the way they often hope for, by swinging in crosses. None of our current strikers are particularly competent at attacking crosses, so we would be looking for a striker who is totally dominant in the air and can play with his back to goal. Of the players that are good enough to be Chelsea's No.1 striker, only Mario Mandzukic and Zlatan Ibrahimovic spring to mind. A case could certainly be made for Radamel Falcao, who attacks crosses ridiculously well, but the price, wages, age and injuries are more than a little off-putting.
Another viable option is to shoot from long range. When you think of attackers that specialise in long distance shooting, Ronaldo and Bale spring to mind but they are obviously unavailable. Beyond them, there is Mario Balotelli, Hulk and Wayne Rooney, all of whom come with huge, obvious warning signs.
An alternative could be to look for midfielders who can score from range. Frank Lampard, of course, is one of the very best but there are plenty of good long range shooters that Chelsea might be interested in. Paul Pogba and Toni Kroos are probably the most appealing options.
The two names most linked with Chelsea have been Diego Costa and Karim Benzema, but neither of them seem to be the answer to our struggles against deep defences. Whilst Costa's physicality and Benzema's technique make them attractive propositions, they both score the majority of their goals on the counter attack. This means they might be very handy in games against the very best teams, but that certainly isn't where Chelsea have struggled.
Let me clarify; guys like Edinson Cavani, Karim Benzema and Diego Costa, who I do not view as ideal targets, are still enormous upgrades on our current options and I would take any of them in a heartbeat. In fact, due to the lack of sensible options on the market (Falcao's injury, Rooney's wages, Balo's temperament) they are actually among my first choices.
My preference? Well, if he is available, it's Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He may be 32, but he is still right at his peak and probably will be until 2016 at least. He wins almost every header, he is a brilliant set piece taker, has fantastic agility, great hold up play, venomous long shots and is a monster in FIFA. He has a proven track record of scoring against basically everyone, everywhere. And best of all, he's already a Jose Mourinho disciple. In short, everything I believe we should be looking for. Ideally, I would try to sign him on a three-year deal for up to £20m.
TL;DR: Chelsea have enough clever hobbits who try to find a way through the bus, we need a striker who can circumvent it, either a reliable target man or a long shot demon. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is both. Get him.