Jose Mourinho must make a big decision on Romelu Lukaku

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Jose Mourinho has been faced with several high-profile decisions already this summer, with the transfer activity at Chelsea already well underway following a trophyless 2013/14 campaign .

As well as having to decide upon admittedly impressive deals for the likes of La Liga duo Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, the popular Portuguese - along with the players themselves, of course - has also had to make several key judgements on the future of a number of his existing squad.

From senior, influential professionals such as Frank Lampard, John Terry and Ashley Cole to budding superstars such as Belgian international Thibaut Courtois, perhaps the most puzzling and difficult decision yet to be resolved involves just what to do with a certain Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku future

Having arrived at Stamford Bridge from Pro League champions Anderlecht as a powerful but extremely raw teenager back in 2011, Lukaku has continued to grow in stature and now rightly commands a reputation as one of the most exciting young prospects in the Premier League.

A formidable and somewhat revelatory loan spell with West Brom two years ago saw the 21-year-old really showcase the full extent of his talent, so much so that many Chelsea fans were positively brimming with excitement when predicting the sizeable impact he could have upon his return to West London.

While Lukaku was expected to feature prominently under Mourinho last season, the surprising signing of elder statesmen Samuel Eto'o from troubled Russian top-flight outfit Anzhi Makhachkala marginalised his role to an extent and, to the disappointment of the bulk of supporters, he was once again sent away on a temporary basis - this time to Roberto Martinez's Everton.

To no-one's surprise, Lukaku once again thrived with the aid of regular first-team competition at Goodison Park and he quickly became a fan's favourite due to a series of dominant goalscoring performances.

Indeed, the struggles endured by the likes of Eto'o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba last season only served to increase the sense of disbelief and unease that Lukaku was allowed to depart for a second time.

Decision time for Jose

Following yet more months of uncertainty and near-constant unhelpful press speculation - Lukaku has been strongly linked with an imminent loan move to La Liga champions Atletico Madrid in recent days - the time has surely now come for Mourinho to make a decision once and for all on Lukaku for the good of the club and especially for the player himself.

Quite simply, another loan spell would just be prolonging the inevitable. Although a stint at Atletico - with Diego Simeone having of course now lost star frontman Diego Costa to Chelsea - would certainly give Lukaku a chance to continue his fine form, all it will mean is delaying the decision over his permanent future for yet another year.

Given that he is under contract, Chelsea reserve the right do as they please in this regard. However, having proven himself again and again, Lukaku - whose Belgium side face Argentina in a keenly-anticipated World Cup quarter-final clash in Brasília tomorrow evening - deserves the opportunity now to settle down for the long-haul and not have to consistently worry about if indeed he has a future at Stamford Bridge or not.

Should he stay or go?

When making such a decision, Mourinho must think very carefully. Although the relationship between him and Lukaku appeared to deteriorate somewhat during the latter's prolific spell on Merseyside, he simply cannot ignore the obvious qualities that such a talented striker brings to his squad.

The hefty sum - believed to be in the region of £32 million - lavished upon Costa obviously suggests that he will be chosen as Chelsea's first-choice striker next year, but the likes of Torres and Ba are unlikely to provide adequate competition in the same manner as Lukaku inevitably would.

Should he choose to sell, then Chelsea would not be short of suitors for Lukaku, who is believed to be additionally coveted on a full-time basis by Everton and Tottenham and also rated at around the £25 million mark.

Whatever Mourinho chooses to do, he must commit. Either Lukaku stays or he goes - another loan deal is simply no good for anyone.

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Romelu Lukaku
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