Surely Everton would have known going into the summer transfer window that having Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Salomon Rondon as the only out-and-out strikers in the squad was a dangerous strategy. And as if they had tempted fate, a freak injury to Calvert-Lewin sustained in training meant he would be out for at least the first six weeks of the new campaign. To make matters worse, Rondon was suspended for the season opener against Chelsea as well, a punishment carried over from last season’s red card against Brentford, and that saw the Blues take on Frank Lampard’s striker with Anthony Gordon slotting in as a ‘False 9’ in that game.
As expected, the Toffees were mostly toothless upfront in the 1-0 defeat, and now are going to Villa Park this coming weekend with Rondon the only option for the position. Recent days have seen a spate of transfer rumours sparking up regarding strikers that the Blues are being linked with, so here are short bios on all the players we’ve heard of so far.
The Chelsea youngster is only 20 but did well in spurts out on loan at Southampton last season, scoring 9 goals with 1 assist in 38 appearances for the Saints. It is worth noting though that most of those goals only came when he was in a two-striker formation with Ralph Hassenhuttl’s side bouncing between a 4-4-2 and 3-4-3/3-5-2 throughout the season.
Chelsea seem unwilling to sell the striker this summer despite interest from multiple clubs including Everton. Newcastle and Southampton are among the sides that are interested in the player, but he has also received reassurances from Thomas Tuchel that he will get regular playing time this season with the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner.
Everton would certainly be amenable for a loan deal for the player, but with only one domestic loan slot available, the Toffees are going to have to decide whether it’s Broja to pursue, or go after any one of Michy Batshuayi, Ross Barkley, Conor Gallagher and Billy Gilmour instead.
The 28-year-old French striker currently plies his trade for RC Strasbourg and has two more years on his contract there. The tall and gangly forward certainly knows where the goalposts are located, banging in 12 goals and 8 assists in 38 games last season. Strasbourg are said to want about £18 million for him, and have already rejected a £10m bid from Wolves while Leicester City and Brentford are also said to be interested.
That was not a one-off season either, as Ajorque has a total of 45 goals and 17 assists in 123 Ligue 1 games over his career. He tends to use that height often to his benefit, is strong in the air and does well holding up the ball and bringing his teammates into play in the 5-3-2/3-5-2 formation that Strasbourg favoured on the way to a sixth-placed finish last season.
Where he brings value to a side like Everton is in his workrate defensively where he is in the top quartile for tackling, pressures, clearances and aerial duels won - at 6’ 5.5” you would expect no less from him. His scoring rate is not the best though, and Ajorque is not a high volume shooter.
The 26-year-old has three years left on his contract with Stade Rennais, and is more of a pure striker than any other players we have been linked with so far. Born in France, he is qualified to represent Guinea at a national level and has three caps starting in March this year. He bagged 12 goals last season in 48 appearances in all competitions, including appearances in the UEFA Europa Conference League. Guirassy has 31 goals and 3 assists in 108 Ligue 1 games, and a further 3 goals in 20 appearances in the Bundesliga for Koln.
However, he was dropped as a starter last season and with a few ankle issues has a bit of a chequered injury record. He’s never scored more than 9 league goals, and seems to lack consistency at Ligue 1 level, with long spells without scoring or setting up chances for his side either.
Reports from earlier today seemed to indicate that the Blues were looking for a loan-to-buy deal, which seems about right for most of the targets we’ve been linked with this summer. Renne paid £13.5m for him a couple years back, and don’t want to do a loan and would likely want almost all that back, but he hardly seems worth that amount especially as they need funds to pay for Arnaud Kalimuendo coming over from Paris St Germain.
25-year-old Austria international Kalajdzic features for VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga, and scored six goals and two assists last season in 15 appearances, having missed a large part of the opening half of the season due to a shoulder injury. He also has four goals in 15 international appearances. He made the transfer from Admira Wacker in Austria to Stuttgart in 2019, and since then has racked up 24 goals and 10 assists in all competitions in Germany.
Kalajdzic is a giant at nearly 6’7”, and as can be expected is very strong in the air. While his passing accuracy is not great, his hold-up play, assists and progressive passing are very good. He shows surprising nimbleness for a player his size, using his long legs to cover ground in pressuring opponents in their own half.
He is entering the last year of his contract with the German side and likely can be gotten for a relatively cheaper sum though Chelsea and Manchester United are also said to be interested in the player, with the Red Devils already in talks for his international teammate Marko Arnautovic.
This one came as a bit of a surprise, with the Coventry City striker seemingly coming out of nowhere. The Sweden international has two goals in seven international caps, and at 24 is still growing into his game. He had a very good season last year, scoring 18 times in 47 games for the sky blues.
Formerly a Brighton player, he spent time in 2. Bundesliga with FC St. Pauli where he scored 7 times in 26 games before loan spells at Swansea City and Coventry, before the latter bought him in the summer of 2021 for about £1 million.
A high-volume shooter, Gyokeres can cover a lot of ground quickly and hits the ball fiercely, with a good percentage of his goals coming from outside the box, an area the Blues could certainly use help in. He’s already started the current season off on the right foot with a well-taken goal from distance for Coventry in their 1-1 draw against Sunderland.
The 26-year-old centre forward is streaky, having been unable to replicate his Championship goalscoring form in the top flight despite being afforded enough minutes to settle in by Hassenhuttl alongside Broja last season.
The Leicester-born player represents Scotland internationally, scoring six times in his 19 appearances since making his debut in March last year. Since joining the Saints from Birmingham in 2019, he has scored 5 goals and 4 assists (36 appearances), 9 goals and 5 assists (42 apps), and 8 goals and 3 assists in 33 games.
His durability and strength on the ball are excellent qualities to have, but his finishing and decision-making let him down, hence why he’s been been unable to get goals regularly in the Premier League. The Blues are looking for a loan-to-buy while the Saints are looking to rid themselves of him to clear the decks for a bigger transfer.
Adams’ stats for last season pretty much define a player who is halfway decent at just about everything with excelling at any of them, while his direct stats comparison with Calvert-Lewin over the last three seasons show a player who does best in a two-man attack.
The 23-year-old Nigeria international had his breakout season a couple of years ago after making the jump from KV Kortrijk in Holland to FC Lorient in France’s Ligue 1. He scored 15 goals in that season in 34 appearances, and then went on to score a further 8 goals and 4 assists in 38 games. He has also played out on the right wing in a pinch.
While he is blessed with pace and an eye for goal, the fortunes of Lorient seem to have mirrored his dry spells with the team almost slipping down to relegation as he went through a phase of scoring only three goals in the first eight months of the season, including a streak of 15 games without bulging the net.
The Blues are said to have extensively scouted him, no doubt having asked his international teammate Alex Iwobi about him as well as he has scored twice in seven international appearances for the Super Eagles.
His expected goals and assists per ninety minutes (npxG+xA/90) of 0.49 from last season is slightly higher than Ajorque’s, but overall he doesn’t really do anything that puts him in the top quartile in any of the key attacking or defensive metrics for a forward.
Note: Gyokeres is not included in this last table of data since he is yet to play in a top flight league.