West Brom boss Steve Clarke believes his side will be in pole position to bring Romelu Lukaku back to the Hawthorns for next season if Chelsea allow him to leave on loan.
Lukaku, who has netted 13 times for the Baggies this term, is due to return to Stamford Bridge at the end of the season to report for pre-season training.
The Belgian's future is unclear though, due to a muddied understanding over who will succeed Benitez as Blues boss and whether he will be in their first team plans.
Clarke understands the important of preparing plans for next season, including factoring in that they may not have the strong striker to turn to next season.
“We have to develop the squad without knowing if he’ll be back," he told a press conference. "We have to plan for him not returning."
The former Chelsea assistant does however remain hopeful that should Lukaku be allowed to leave on loan, his side would be in good stead to make a move.
“All I would say is that if he goes back out on loan I think we’re in a good position to get him again," Clarke added.
“He loves it here, he’s been positive about the club, he’s been nominated for PFA young player of the year, which tells you that he’s had a good season, so I think he will be happy here.”
Speaking to the Birmingham Mail about the 19 year olds PFA nomination, the Scot explained. “He doesn’t owe us anything.“We have been part of the process that helped him get the nomination but he deserves the credit for the work he’s done as well.”