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Chelsea striker search: Dzeko prospects fade as Islam Slimani and Ashley Barnes linked

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Lazy Sunday BS

Burnley v Manchester United - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

One way to try to spice up a lazy Sunday is to drop some more transfer rumor nonsense. Sure enough, two new names were supposedly added to Chelsea’s striker search. Rest assured, we’re reaching rather deep into the Rolodex here, scrolling to page 17 of our Google / FM search results.

We say supposedly since in at least one case, the surreal link to Ashley Barnes from Sky Sports, the rumor was thankfully debunked within the space of two sentences.

Chelsea have expressed an interest in Burnley’s Ashley Barnes as they widen their search for a target man, Sky Sports News understands.

[but]

According to Sky sources, Burnley have not had any contact from Chelsea.

El. Oh. El.

A slightly less trollish name linked is Leicester City’s Islam Slimani, who moved to the then defending champions in 2016 but has failed to replicate the form that saw him score at almost a goal-per-game pace for Sporting Lisbon in the Portuguese league. Leicester paid a club-record £28m for him, but he’s managed just 13 goals in all competitions since, including just 1 goal in 12 appearances (2 starts) in the Premier League this season.

Slimani thus clearly fits our “needs”: big, tall, strong, and a bit crap.

As before, as per the Times who first ran this story, Chelsea are looking for a temporary solution via a loan, which would lessen the existential pain of shunting out Michy Batshuayi for the likes of Slimani or Barnes or Crouch or Carroll or ... [still waiting for the Grant Holt rumor].

The one rumor that doesn’t immediately make you want to take out your brain and put it into cryostorage until February is the link with AS Roma’s Edin Dzeko. At least he’s a good player, even if the moneys potentially involved and his advancing age (31, going on 32) make this an unlikely pursuit for Chelsea despite all the rumors.

At the start of the weekend, the Italian media exploded with expectations of this deal (as well as the Emerson Palmieri acquisition) closing on Monday or Tuesday, but the rest of the weekend has given no supporting indications towards that. Roma sporting director Monchi has twice addressed the media with insistent notions of not weakening the team, while Roma head coach Eusebio Di Francesco said Dzeko is fully committed to the Giallorossi — the striker started as normal in Roma’s primetime clash against Internazionale on Sunday. That of course doesn’t rule out a transfer in the next 10 days, but it’s certainly not something that advances the rumor forward.

“I spoke yesterday in the Press conference to explain what was happening in the club. I think we should focus on the game. Whatever is done will be done thinking about what is best for the club and the team. In my mind is always the desire to strengthen the squad, which is my job.”

-Monchi; source: Mediaset Premium via Football Italia

In fact, TMW, who are certainly not a great source but had been pushing the Dzeko to Chelsea story like everyone else, have already flipped to the other side, saying that while the Emerson deal still looks good, the “Dzeko track has cooled a bit”. And that really shouldn’t be surprising.

There was also a random link with West Ham’s Marko Arnautović, but we’ve already had more than our fair dosage of bullsh*t for the day.