Chelsea have reportedly identified Stuttgart striker Sasa Kalajdzic as a potential transfer target if their move to Erling Haaland falls through.
The Blues are believed to have rejected an opening player-plus-cash offer for Haaland last week, meaning the Premier League side could look elsewhere this summer to bolster their front line.
Austria’s Kalajdzic scored an impressive 17 goals in all competitions for the Bundesliga last season, with Chelsea’s domestic rivals Tottenham and Dortmund – if Haaland leaves – would also be interested.
Below, Sports post runs the line about the Stuttgart giant, who scored a fine goal against eventual tournament winner Italy in the Euro 2020 last 16, and identifies what Blues fans can expect from him if he were to move to Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea are reportedly interested in signing Austrian striker Sasa Kalajdzic (pictured above)
The Blues are looking at alternative options after their offer for Erling Haaland was rejected
How is he as a player?
Kalajdzic is a physically imposing target, measuring almost two meters in length. That sort of stature is almost unique in the Premier League right now and poses an unusual threat from crosses, set pieces and in both boxes.
Although he currently has a relatively small frame, the 24-year-old won 57.1 percent of his aerial duels last year and is rarely bullied by defenders – revealing last year that he has been described as an ‘Ibrahimovic machine’.
He’s adept at flick-ons of long passes to fuel up-and-coming teammates like Timo Werner and Callum Hudson-Odoi, but the 11-cap international can also knock the ball down, protect with his body and bring other attackers into play.
Like former Liverpool and England striker Peter Crouch, his height belies good first touch and strong technical skills, thanks to playing in midfield in his youth. He also has an eye for a trick and can finish with both feet.
Kalajdzic had a great season for Stuttgart last season – image provided by sofascore.com
What is his current situation in Stuttgart?
He has two years left with the four-year contract he signed in July 2019, meaning the club could be willing to sell him this season rather than lose him for free afterward.
It was reported in April that Tottenham were interested in him, with a £15m fee quoted, but given his strong end to the campaign and his impressive performance at Euro 2020, that could now be considerably higher.
Stuttgart sold key striker Nico Gonzalez to Fiorentina in June for £20 million, are not under direct financial pressure to sell and would not be willing to lose last season’s top goalscorer, with the Athletic report that they could demand more than £30 million for him.
The Stuttgart striker scored 17 goals in all competitions for the Bundesliga last season
Chelsea and owner Roman Abramovich are no penny-pinching, but such compensation for a player who is likely to be a team player at first can be a significant disincentive.
How would he fit into Thomas Tuchel’s playing style?
Chelsea are currently not blessed with forward options, with Olivier Giroud now at AC Milan, plus Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi linked with moves.
Signed for a first combined £110 million last summer, German duo Timo Werner and Kai Havertz are not a natural number 9 and have shown inconsistent form, especially in terms of goals – although Havertz impressed later in the season with a false nine.
Blues manager Thomas Tuchel (left) could sign him as the club Erling Haaland. does not bring in
The former Admira Wacker man would likely be a backup option initially, regularly coming off the bench to influence games or allow for a more direct style of play, starting domestic and European cup matches.
He is also a fiercely determined character, as evidenced by his comeback from a cruciate ligament injury in a pre-season camp shortly after signing for Stuttgart. He worked hard on his recovery and the following year he played at Euro 2020.
Would he be willing to move?
In a word, yes. While the Vienna-born star wouldn’t walk into a safe place in the starting squad, the Premier League would be an attractive proposition for him, with personal terms unlikely to be a sticking point.
With Timo Werner perhaps more suited to playing wide, Kalajdzic could be a good central option
Now that Liverpool are reportedly interested, he said: picture in March: “I feel completely at home at VfB, but it would be a very difficult decision because I really love Liverpool. This club is just special to me.
“When I was a kid I saw the Champions League final when Liverpool came back from 3-0 behind against Milan to win. That grabbed me. The last time I went to a game in Liverpool, I really dressed up: I bought a scarf, a sweater, a cap and a mug.’
He also considers former Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic, also of Serbian descent, an idol, so he has a slight connection to Stamford Bridge.