Connect in the back of the net

Romelu Lukaku’s departure from Chelsea leaves this fan with mixed feelings.

It seems like more than 3 and a half years ago that most of us including me first heard about Romelu Lukaku, an exciting young talent at Anderlecht. He was scoring for fun, and his age brought him somewhere near the level of excitement that the likes of Wayne Rooney, Eden Hazard and Neymar have had in recent years.

All the big clubs were rumoured to be interested in him, but it was Chelsea who snapped him up. Many called him “the new” *insert world class player or legend here*, but Drogba was a common associated name. Chelsea then, seemed like a perfect fit.

The 2011/12 season wasn’t ideal for Romelu. He had very limited game time, and with Torres, Sturridge, Kalou, Drogba and Anelka all playing in his position at various points in the season, one felt for the young talent. Many Chelsea fans were put off by Lukaku’s alleged nonchalant attitude to them winning the Champions League in Munich, but a loan to West Brom followed.

An exciting young prospect at a solid Premier League side where he would almost certainly feature regularly seemed perfect for both Chelsea and Lukaku himself, and this was a defining season for the Belgian.

He scored an impressive 17 goals in 38 appearances, many of which were from the bench, and showed all the makings of a genuine Premier League striker. In a more compact, defensive West Brom side, Lukaku had shown a great deal, and with Chelsea beginning to centre on the creativity of players such as Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar, all seemed to be looking bright for Lukaku.

I was certainly of the belief that, in the 2013/14 season, Lukaku would be at Chelsea. The club’s failed attempts to bring in Edison Cavani or Radamel Falcao meant there was a striker void needing filling at Stamford Bridge, and all seemed set up for Lukaku to play a meaningful role in Chelsea’s supposed title bid.

The UEFA Super Cup has been suggested as a turning point for Lukaku however. He missed the all-important penalty against Bayern Munich and cost Chelsea the Cup, and two days later, he was off on loan to Everton. I was disappointed. Lukaku had looked so good at West Brom and another season of misfiring Torres and Ba used only sparingly awaited.

In the end, one year deal man Samuel Eto’o was the most effective Chelsea striker, but he often lacked the physicality and youthful exuberance Lukaku showed at Everton. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but if Lukaku had showed as much at Chelsea as he did at Everton, maybe the Premier League trophy would have been at Stamford Bridge in May.

So why did Lukaku leave on loan last Summer and eventually this permanent move to Everton? Much has been made among Chelsea fans of Lukaku’s alleged bad attitude, heightened by his angry reaction to being substituted against Russia in the World Cup. However, this attitude which centres on a desire to play football is healthy in my view.

It’s very easy for us to get on our high horses and say Lukaku is being childish for seeking a move away, but Mourinho hasn’t got the best track record of giving Chelsea players chances if he doesn’t like their playing style, see Juan Mata.

With Costa, Torres and Drogba all here now, you can forgive Lukaku for wanting to move on. Don’t forget, he has 31 Premier League goals to his name in just 65 games, he wants to better that. A player’s career is short, and I think it is better for someone to go for glory with pressure rather than to waste away on probably better money on the Chelsea bench.

So the question begs: will Lukaku be like Sturridge? An almost obvious bad decision in selling, or will we look back on his departure as good thing with the £28 million fee being brilliant financial manoeuvering from the club? The answer, in my view, depends on Diego Costa, and to a lesser extent, Drogba.

Along with Torres, they will spearhead the Chelsea attack this season and will look to give the goals that weren’t there last season. I think Lukaku is a fantastic striker, with quick feet, awareness, and not to mention his power.

Everton have one of the Premier League’s finest strikers on their books, and he will be one of the main men in their team this season, so shouldn’t have issues of whether he’ll play regularly enough.

For Chelsea, time will tell whether this is a good move or not, and Costa faces yet more pressure now. I do believe Costa will succeed however, and so the main error in the Lukaku saga was in my view, letting him go on loan last season.

 

Written by Joshua Sodergren

Follow Josh on Twitter @Joshsalad365

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