With news that Marko Arnautovicâ€™s proposed move to Chelsea has broken down after the players medical revealed a stress fracture in his foot, the Stamford Bridge club has turned its attention to Moussa Dembele, another striking sensation plying his trade in the Eredivisie.
Dembele began his professional career at KFC Germinal Beerschot in the Belgian league, where his form and potential attracted attention from the Dutch team Willem II Tilburg, with whom he later signed.
After a just one season he was earmarked by Louis Van Gaal, now manager at AZ Alkmaar, as a long term replacement for Shota Arveladze, one of the Dutch leagueâ€™s most consistent strikers over the past decade. Van Gaal made a bid of 5.5 million euros which was accepted.
Dembele’s rise continued unabated under the tutelage of one of Europeâ€™s great managers at developing young players. The managerâ€™s faith in his young protege has been rewarded with the 21-year-old striker helping AZ clinch the title, scoring 10 goals in 23 games despite missing 3 months of the season with a serious knee injury.
At 6ft 1 inches, Dembele is an imposing player but he is no battering ram in the mould of a Didier Drogba. His favoured position is the deep lying striker role made famous in the Premiership by Eric Cantona and Dennis Bergkamp.
He is blessed with both acceleration and pace, potentially making him a danger in any league. Added to that his ability to strike the both with either foot, Dembele is a danger on the inside and outside of defenders. This has helped him score some absolute scorchers last season.
If there is one criticism which can be leveled at him, and which is especially important if he is to make an impact in the Premier League, is that he lacks upper body strength. Developing his physical presence will be a must if he is to fulfill his potential.
Roman Abromavichâ€™s pledge to buy younger players who can develop into stars at Chelsea means that there may be some truth behind the latest speculation. However, Chelsea do not have a great record in developing young players, with Kalou and Ben Sahar being just two examples. Nevertheless, this may change under Carlo Ancelloti who oversaw Kakaâ€™s and Patoâ€™s development into first team regulars at AC Milan. One further drawback is Anelkaâ€™s preference at playing behind Drogba in the supporting role.
With Dembeleâ€™s contract running out in 2011 and Van Gaal having left the club to manage Bayern Munich, AZ see this as the prefect time to cash in on one of their star players and have allegedly slapped a 20 million euro price tag on him.
With other clubs such as Firoentina, Arsenal, Juventus and Genoa interested in Dembele it is predicted that he will be sold for a large fee, although he is unlikely to fetch his asking price, and with Chelseaâ€™s riches he will become a blue if the club is serious in purchasing him.
Video evidence of all Moussa Dembele’s strikes in the 2008/09 season can be seen here.