Chelsea Players Protest Against January Transfer Plans For 'Big Target Man'

The surprise shown by many at the identities of those players Chelsea have been targeting throughout the January transfer window was shared, it seems, by some quarters at Stamford Bridge.

Andy Carroll. Peter Crouch. Christian Benteke. As the names of targets began to filter out of the West London club, it was clear what Antonio Conte was after—but felt like he was perhaps six years too late.

Chelsea, it became increasingly obvious, were on the hunt for an experienced striker, burly in stature, capable of holding the ball up and providing an aerial threat.

On Saturday (January 20), Conte's players eased past Brighton 4-0 with the opposite style of football, mesmerizing the newly-promoted team on the south coast with the movement and intricacy of Willian, Michy Batshuayi and Eden Hazard.

"Football is simple," Hazard said after the game, as quoted by The Daily Telegraph. "Keep the ball on the ground and try [to play] like we did."

Chelsea were without £60 million summer signing Alvaro Morata due to suspension, but the Spaniard's fast start to life in English football—he scored six goals in his first six Premier League games—has ground to a stuttering halt.

Eden Hazard
Eden Hazard at the Amex Stadium, Brighton, England, January 20. Hazard says Chelsea do not need a "big target man" in this transfer window. GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty

Morata has not scored in his last six games for Chelsea, which included three successive goalless draws. Conte has made clear that he has a lack of faith in Batshuayi, yet the 24-year-old Belgian has scored 11 goals this season that have mostly come from the substitutes' bench.

Hazard believes Chelsea do not need a new striker. "I think we have two very good strikers in Alvaro and Michy," he said. "If they are not ready to play I can play striker, so I don't think we need [another striker].

"Because we are missing chances, people are saying we need another striker, but if we are scoring goals we are the best attack in the league and no one can say we need a striker. It depends on the form of the team and I think we are happy with the team we have.

"Who is the best team this year? Manchester City. The strikers, [Gabriel] Jesus and [Sergio] Aguero, are not big. It's simple. It depends how you want to play. If you want to play with long balls you need a target man, if you want to keep the ball on the floor you need a small guy."

Chelsea's win at the Amex stadium saw them climb up to third, above Liverpool, with Jurgen Klopp's team facing Swansea City on Monday.

Conte's team turn their attention to the League Cup, as they travel to the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday to face Arsenal in the second leg of the semifinal having drawn 0-0 at Stamford Bridge on January 10.