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Zola confirms Chelsea interest in Callum Wilson

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Solution to our striker problem?

AFC Bournemouth v Huddersfield Town - Premier League Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

The pre-match press conference ahead of Chelsea’s match against Bournemouth in the League Cup tomorrow had been tame as usual ... until assistant manager Gianfranco Zola dropped the bombshell that Chelsea are indeed interested in signing the Cherries’ centre-forward, Callum Wilson.

“I’m sure that there are a lot of players, they are linked with us. Certainly Callum Wilson is doing very well for this club and he’s an interest not only for us but for many. He’s strong, fast and he sees the goal. I like [him] because he’s quick but also strong in the air, which is also a very important quality.”

“Having said that, I don’t want to go too much into it. He’s doing very well and I’m pleased for him. He has a lot of qualities that can take him a long way. I really hope that he keeps improving like this.”

-Gianfranco Zola; source: Goal

Wilson, now in his fourth year in the Premier League at age 26, has been enjoying a bit of a breakout season, grabbing 8 goals and 5 assists in 15 Premier League starts — already matching his goals total from last year — with only Mohamed Salah, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling ahead of him in the race for the Golden Boot. He has also achieved his goalscoring numbers while taking the least shots per game out of the group with 2.3, which is hopefully an indication of clinical finishing rather than just statistical oddity.

Coupled with Chelsea’s problems up front, which have forced Maurizio Sarri to turn to Eden Hazard as a striker, easily explains why Chelsea would be interested in acquiring Wilson’s services.

However, Wilson’s injury history presents a very huge question mark over this transfer. The forward has ruptured his ACL twice, once in September 2015 and the second time in February 2017. The injuries kept him out of action for 6 and 8 months, respectively. His return to prolific scoring this season, for the first time since his season in the Championship in 2014-15 when he scored 23 goals in 50 appearances in all competitions, does showcase his mental fortitude and resilience. He’s recently missed time with a hamstring injury as well.

Another issue that should be pointed out is his potential transfer fee. Wilson signed a new four-year deal with Bournemouth in late June, and he is a homegrown player. Previous rumors have put his transfer fee around £35m, and that’s likely to increase given the timing of the potential transfer in the middle of the season and Bournemouth’s understandable reluctance to let him go.

“Yes, we are [confident of keeping hold of him]. At this stage we are just focusing on the matches, we have got so many games to come around the Christmas period, I am sure Callum is the same, he is focusing on his football. We are certainly not anticipating losing players in January that we don’t want to.”

-Eddie Howe; source: Goal

Yes, Chelsea need to solve the issue at striker. But the solution needs to be a solid, long-term solution (like Morata was supposed to be). Overpaying for a panic/desperation buy in January is usually not the smartest way to go about that.