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Chelsea linked with Germany forward

Apr 17, 2013, 11:30 AM EST

Germany v Greece - UEFA EURO 2012 Quarter Final Getty Images

Strong reports out of Europe suggest Chelsea are close to signing André Schürrle from Bayer Leverkusen.

The clubs are said to be near to agreement over a $30 million transfer fee and a five-year contract for the versatile 22-year-old Germany international, who can play out wide or as a central striker. He has nine goals in 29 Bundesliga games this season for Leverkusen, who are third in the standings.

Planning ahead and getting transfer business done early in the summer is prudent. But if Chelsea do sign Schürrle it will underline the relative lack of influence that its managers possess within the club’s hierarchy. After all, interim boss Rafael Benitez is leaving at the end of the season, so no one knows who Chelsea’s next manager will be.

Even as more English clubs adopt the sort of formal, structured approaches to scouting and signing players that are routine in continental Europe, it still seems odd to spend big money on a player without knowing for sure that the next manager actually wants him. But influential technical director Michael Emenalo has long been an admirer of Schürrle and is close to owner Roman Abramovich.

Aware that last summer’s failure to replace Didier Drogba has been costly, expect Chelsea to also go after a conventional, goalscoring center forward in the close-season. After winning the Champions League last May it seemed as if Chelsea’s transfer policy was to stockpile tricky, small playmakers – your Oscars, your Eden Hazards – without really giving enough thought to who was going to be in the box to finish the chances these midfield wizards would create. Of course, everyone at Chelsea hoped that man would be Fernando Torres, but his future will be a matter for conjecture once again. On the one hand, the Spain international has rarely looked convincing and is surely not the player he was at Liverpool and Atletico Madrid. Then again, he’s managed to score 20 goals in all competitions this season all the same.

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