Pochettino's faith in Broja may curb Chelsea's striker chase

AFP , Friday 18 Aug 2023

Mauricio Pochettino says his faith in Armando Broja could stop him signing a new striker after Chelsea failed in their bid to prise Michael Olise from Crystal Palace.

Mauricio Pochettino
Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino reacts during the English Premier League football match between Chelsea and Liverpool at Stamford Bridge Stadium in London, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023. Photo: AP


Palace forward Olise turned down the chance to join Chelsea this week, penning a new contract just days after Pochettino's club reportedly offered to pay his £35 million ($44 million) release clause.

Missing out on France Under-21 international Olise leaves Pochettino's squad still seemingly lacking in attacking options.

A knee injury sustained by close-season signing Christopher Nkunku will rule out the former Leipzig star until December.

But Blues boss Pochettino is waiting for Albania striker Broja to return from the knee injury that has kept him out since the end of last year.

Pochettino said he would be reluctant to go into the market for a player that might limit Broja's first-team chances.

"I think at the same time we are keeping one or two eyes on Armando Broja because I think we can't forget him," Pochettino told reporters on Friday.

"We cannot stop him, and to bring some profile of player than can stop his evolution.

"We really believe in him. We know him very well. He can be a really important striker for Chelsea. We need to be careful."

Broja played 18 times for Chelsea last season before getting injured, scoring once in a 3-0 against Wolves in October.

That followed his successful loan spell at Southampton the previous campaign where he netted nine times in 38 appearances.

Nicolas Jackson is currently the only fit striker available to Pochettino.

But after a transfer window spree that has seen the club spend in excess of £350 million, including the £53 million capture of Southampton midfielder Romeo Lavia on Friday, Pochettino wants his squad to show its flexibility.

"We're working of course, seeing all the options that we can manage in the market. All clubs are doing the same as us," Pochettino said.

"We're disappointed with the situation of Christopher because he should be a very important player for us, helping Nico Jackson to score goals. But that is football and we need to accept that situation."

Pochettino was also asked for his response to reports that some of his squad see him as more of friend than a manager.

"I am not happy with this," he said. "Tell me the names of the players, because there's something wrong if I am more friend than coach.

"No, I understand the situation. To be strong like a coach, in the same time you can be friendly. You can be honest and be tough, and in the way that we can approach today, all the young guys can be my kids.

"I prefer to be a better coach than a better friend."

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