He has outscored his main rival by five times in three less appearances so far this season. He has completely transformed the fortunes of a mid-table side whilst his rival has played havoc with the fortunes of the European champions. Yet still there is a talk of another costly striker arriving in the summer. Romelu Lukaku must be wondering what he has to do to be fully appreciated by his parent club Chelsea.
Signed from Belgian club Anderlecht for around £20 million in August 2011 the big forward was always going to be one for the future. A self-professed Chelsea fan, it was an exciting idea for all involved with the club that one of the most talented young forwards in Europe was going to be tutored by his role model, Didier Drogba.
Whilst Lukaku has often praised Drogba’s influence on his game he is keen to remind fans that he is not a Drobga-esque player, despite their resemblence in playing styles and obvious ability. Instead, he wants to be remembered as Romelu Lukaku in his own right, as opposed to Drogba v2.0.
Lukaku found opportunities with the first-team frustratingly limited during his first season at Stamford Bridge as new manager André Villas-Boas seemed reluctant to play the young award. He was restricted to a few substitute showings and consequently it was no surprise over the summer to see Lukaku ask for a loan move away from Chelsea. It was former Chelsea player and coach Steve Clarke who won the race to his signature and managed to bring him to West Brom for a season-long loan.
Since joining the Baggies, Lukaku has been simply sensational. Whether he has been spearheading the West Brom attack by himself or playing alongside Shane Long or Peter Odemwingie he has been a constant threat and he was impressive since day one.
Brought on during the opening day victory over Liverpool in the 68 minute, Lukaku terrorised the Liverpool defence for just under ten minutes before netting himself and he continued producing throughout the season. One thing the big Belgian will bring to Chelsea next season should he be given game time is versatility.
So far this campaign he has scored a roughly equal amount of goals with his left and right feet and his head. Fernando Torres meanwhile has scored over 70% of his Premier League goals with his right foot. Lukaku’s overall game has also developed fantastically during West Brom with his link up play one of the things to have particularly benefitted. Chelsea fans must look towards Daniel Sturridge’s loan spell at Bolton for a comparison of the player’s growth rather than Josh McEachran’s ill-advised loan spell at Swansea last season. Jack Wilshere experienced a similar revelation at Bolton and after a successful season so far Lukaku is giving off all the right signs he is now ready to take the step up at Stamford Bridge.
The question remains though if the player will actually want to return to Chelsea when his loan deal expires. He has reiterated on more than one occasion his desire to be playing regular first team football and unless this is guaranteed it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him move away again on loan or even permanently.
Lukaku is clearly an ambitious player and also quite a proud player, not wanting to take credit for others achievements. Following Chelsea’s Champions League victory in May, Lukaku was quick to point out that he wouldn’t be holding the trophy because he played no part in his side’s victory in the competition. If Lukaku wins the Champions League again you can be sure he’ll want to have been the focal point in his team’s triumph.
The ball is now in Chelsea’s court as the player does want to stay and become a success at Chelsea. He has proved himself in the Premier League and with a greater creative force behind him at Chelsea he could be lethal. The rumours of Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani will never go away but both these players will cost big money and with the Financial Fair Play regulations lurking perhaps Chelsea should look to the rising star they already possess.
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