Who will Chelsea sign in January if Fernando Torres is not firing on a regular basis?
Chelsea's striking situation is well-documented. Fernando Torres is simply not the player the club thought they were buying when they shelled out £50 million, while Daniel Sturridge continues to be linked away with a switch to a Premier League rival.
Falcao is the player Chelsea are most persistently linked with, but with Atletico Madrid having their best season for years, what if he decides not to walk away?
Chelsea have to have alternatives lined up, so here is a run through of 10 players who could potentially be leading the line at Stamford Bridge in a month's time...
1) Wilfried Bony
A young powerful Ivorian striker hoping to clinch his big move, remind you of anyone? Bony has issued several 'come and get me' hints to Chelsea. His club Vitesse Arnhem have confirmed Chelsea have been in touch with them over a switch, with Liverpool also interested. The 23-year-old has netted 15 times already this season, but his potential involvement in next year's African Nations Cup could count against a switch.
2) Fernando Llorente
Spanish striker Fernando Llorente is known to be available from Athletic Bilbao, where he set pulses racing across Europe last season with his dominant performances. With his contract expiring and a fallout between he and boss Marcelo Bielsa, the club are willing to cash in on the striker, who has all the physical attributes to be a success in English football, and working with fellow Spaniard Benitez may tempt him.
3) Karim Benzema
Chelsea were linked with the Real Madrid forward yesterday as rumours over a January firesale at the Bernabeu build. Mourinho's side are 11 points behind Barcelona already in the title race, and the French striker has the pedigree to interest the Blues but is considered expendable for the 'Special One' to bring in a new striker. He would certainly compliment Torres up front and also be an improvement leading the line.
Brazilian attacker Taison plays for Ukrainian side Metalist and came to prominence when he scored a spectacular Marco van Basten-esque goal in the Europa League last month. Yet he has been a long-term target of the club and has this week again been linked with a move. He can play wide as well as centrally, so the potential is there for him to support Torres rather than to replace him.
5) Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Huntelaar has been linked with switches to Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs, but why not Chelsea? Don't be surprised to see the Blues steal ahead of their rivals, with the Dutchman considered to be available for under £10 million due to his expiring contract. The 29-year-old is a prolific goalscorer and his bargain price tag means he must be considered.
6) Bafetimbi Gomis
The Lyon striker is a man in form, scoring nine in 14 this season, including a hat-trick this week past Didier Drogba's former club Marseille. Liverpool are interested too, but Chelsea could get their man for in the region of £10-15 million. The 27-year-old is at the stage of his career where a big move will suit him and he could succeed in treading the same path as former Lyon man Michael Essien once did with huge success to Stamford Bridge.
7) Leandro Damiao
Brazilian forward Damiao was the nation's success story of their Olympic football campaign, top scoring with six goals. The attacker is a Copa Libertadores winner with Internacional and a former teammate of Spurs star Sandro. He appears primed for a big move to Europe, with Spurs, Real Madrid and AC Milan also interested in acquiring his service but Chelsea were last week linked with a big January bid to add him to their growing roll call of Brazilians.
8) Mario Gomez
Mario Gomez was a surprise name linked with Chelsea in the week, with the Express claiming the German is a target for the club. Last season's top scorer with Bayern, he has fallen out of favour this season with Croatian Mario Mandzukic top scorer and a sizeable offer could tempt Bayern Munich to cash in. Injury has also affected his campaign, with him scoring just one Bundesliga goal all season and at 27 move could invigorate his career.
9) Alvaro Negredo
Rafa Benitez' liking for signing Spaniards was well-documented at Liverpool, with Xabi Alonso his biggest success. It could well be he dips into the La Liga talent pool to solve Chelsea' striking crisis, and Sevilla's Alvaro Negredo is arguably one of the best forwards outside of the two big Madrid clubs and Barcelona. With 7 in 12 matches this season he was linked to Spurs a fortnight ago and would cost around £20 million.
10) Romelu Lukaku
One option for Benitez is simply to recall Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku. The new manager said this week he will certainly consider it, and it is a wise move if Benitez plans on giving him game time. If not it may be best for him to continue with the Baggies where he has impressed so far. The player has said he is not thinking about it for now, but he's not kidding anyone.
Who would be your number one Falcao alternative?
image: © Jan S0L0