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Three reasons why Ivan Toney would be better January transfer for Chelsea than Karim Benzema as Blues hunt new striker

IN the January transfer window almost every team in football wants to add the same thing – a striker to score goals.

Given the spending at Chelsea in recent windows, it should come as no surprise that they are actively pursuing a new forward.

Ivan Toney could be set to move across West London in the January window

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Ivan Toney could be set to move across West London in the January windowCredit: Alamy
Karim Benzema is being linked with a move away from Saudi Arabia

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Karim Benzema is being linked with a move away from Saudi ArabiaCredit: Getty

The decision to spend £32million on Nicolas Jackson has not worked out despite the 22-year-old Senegalese star scoring seven and assisting two in 19 Premier League matches.

While these numbers are respectable, it is not enough for a side with ambitions of finishing in the top four.

And two names surfacing as potential targets for the Blues are Brentford man Ivan Toney and Al-Ittihad’s Karim Benzema.

Both forwards come with an element of risk.

Toney is yet to play for Brentford this season having just served a long term ban for betting offences.

And Benzema is very much in the latter stages of his career having left Real Madrid in the summer to move to a far less competitive and intense league.

Yet despite those negatives, Toney and Benzema represent excellent options for Chelsea in the January window.

Here SunSport takes an in-depth into which of the two would be the better signing.

Presence and movement in the area

While there is no doubt Jackson is an excellent physical striker – standing at 6ft 2in with a powerful build and good pace – he still lacks a presence in the opposition area.

The best strikers in the world are capable of positioning themselves in spots that occupy two or three defenders.

Both Toney and Benzema are excellent penalty area strikers, albeit for slightly different reasons.

Toney uses power and speed to gain an advantage and create space, while Benzema’s movement is more subtle as he makes clever runs that attack space when defenders lose concentration.

Toney reads the space and is quick to attack and exploit the area

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Toney reads the space and is quick to attack and exploit the area

While both have top movement, both are also proven goalscorers at a high level.

Toney has had more of a long route to the top level having started his career at Newcastle before establishing himself as a first-team player at Peterborough.

He then moved to Brentford when they were in the Championship.

But last season saw Toney score 21 goals in all competitions, while Benzema bagged 31 in his final season at Real Madrid.

There is no doubt the skill set of the pair means they would score goals at Chelsea.

As the defenders focus on the near post, Benzema pulls off to curve his run and attack the back post

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As the defenders focus on the near post, Benzema pulls off to curve his run and attack the back post

It is difficult to separate Toney and Benzema when considering their effectiveness in front of goal.

Both are proven strikers and Toney has an excellent profile for the Premier League.

The key thing, however, is that Chelsea find a way to create chances for the striker they end up looking to sign.

Creativity in the final third

If you ask Cristiano Ronaldo who is the best striker he has ever played with he will always says Benzema.

The French striker adapted his own game to become more of a creative presence for Real Madrid when Ronaldo was at his peak.

Indeed, Benzema has long been one of the most underrated creative forwards at the top level.

The same, however, could be said of Toney as he has real vision and creativity when he receives the ball in the final third.

Chelsea have players who are capable of breaking the lines and getting forward to support the striker within their system.

If they add a striker who has the ability to receive the ball and break the defensive line with through balls then they will create more opportunities.

As Toney receives possession and turns, he has the vision and ability to find the runner

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As Toney receives possession and turns, he has the vision and ability to find the runner

Part of the issue that Chelsea have faced this season is that they have ended up playing attacking midfielders as strikers.

And while Jackson struggles, there is an argument the London club need to add a more well-rounded striker to their squad.

Other than Erling Haaland, who is something of an outlier, all top strikers in the modern game need to be able to involve themselves in the build-up play.

If Chelsea are able to recruit a striker who can find runs and drop into space to drag defenders out of position then they will become much more difficult to play against.

Benzema sees a team-mate on the break and plays an accurate pass to release them

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Benzema sees a team-mate on the break and plays an accurate pass to release them

While both Toney and Benzema are strong in terms of receiving and creating threat through their passing in the final third, Toney has the edge here.

He is more mobile and aggressive in his movements to drop and receive the ball in tight areas.

Playing with back to goal

One of the biggest strengths that Chelsea currently have in their squad is their ability to play progressive passes from the midfield.

Both Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo are progressive passers with the ability to break lines of pressure.

The problem that Chelsea have at the moment is they do not have a forward player that is effective when receiving those passes.

Toney and Benzema are effective at coming towards the ball and receiving it with their back to goal.

They are both strong when providing their teams with a platform from which they can build their attacks.

They will take possession and then link the play around the final third before moving forward.

Toney drops in to receive a pass, drags his marker out of position and creates space for others

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Toney drops in to receive a pass, drags his marker out of position and creates space for others

Once again Toney is more mobile and aggressive in his movements than Benzema and he will look to drop into the midfield on a regular basis.

Neither are strikers that rely on pace to run in behind the defensive line, with both thriving more in possession-dominant systems.

Chelsea should always be expecting to dominate the ball against their opposition given the quality in their squad.

At the moment, for all of the money that Chelsea have invested in their midfield unit, they are not getting the best out of these players because they do not have the attacking players to receive and link the play back to goal.

Benzema drops into midfield and finds runners going beyond him

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Benzema drops into midfield and finds runners going beyond him

Once again, in terms of the ability to receive and play with their back to goal, Toney is more favourable over Benzema given he is fresher and more mobile.

Conclusion

It is easy to make the argument that for a top club like Chelsea you could flip a coin between Toney and Benzema.

Both are top centre forwards that would improve Pochettino’s side.

But Toney is nine years younger with a more mobile and dynamic style of play.

And if Chelsea were to sign Benzema then they would need a player to replace him with again in the summer.

Toney would solve their problems for several seasons, so he seems like the most viable option.

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