Chelsea’s storied January transfer window took another twist this evening as it emerged the Blues are lining up a shock bid for veteran striker Peter Crouch, after their move for Andy Carroll was scuppered due to injury.

West Ham forward Carroll was himself a surprising target for the Blues, who are looking to secure backup for main frontman Alvaro Morata amidst reports Michy Batshuayi is set to leave Stamford Bridge on loan this month.

After missing the Hammers’ FA Cup third round replay win over Shrewsbury on Tuesday due to an unspecified “injury”, it was largely expected the rangy 29-year-old was all but set to head to west London. However, it was confirmed earlier today that not only is the injury in question legitimate, it’ll also keep the nine-times-capped England international sidelined for up to six weeks – almost certainly putting an end to any potential move away from the London Stadium.

However, according to media reports, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has alternative target men in his sights. Quite sensationally, the Blues are reportedly considering making a play for 36-year-old Stoke striker Peter Crouch. The 42-times-capped England forward signed a one-year contract extension at the bet365 Stadium only last month, but sources claim the veteran is keen for one more shot at a major club as he reaches the twilight years of his career.

Loan deal most likely scenario

The Telegraph reports that the Blues would only consider taking the forward on loan for the remainder of the season, with a permanent signing having to wait until the future of Conte is resolved this summer. Such a deal would likely be dependent on Batshuayi finding a club, which is no given: West Ham boss David Moyes was reportedly scouting the Belgian during Chelsea’s on-penalties victory over Norwich on Wednesday night, and must have been left unimpressed by the 24-year-old’s patchy performance.

Crouch was signed for a club-record £10 million by the Potters in 2011, and has since gone on to score 58 times in 222 appearances for the Staffordshire side. The 6’7″ striker also has 22 international goals to his credit, and although he’s not appeared for the Three Lions since 2010, he has stated on many occasions that he is not officially retired from international football.