Belgian prodigy Romelu Lukaku has attracted admiring glances from all over Europe since bursting on to the scene as a 16-year-old with club side Anderlecht in May of 2009. The 6ft 4in 17-year-old topped the domestic league scoring charts last season, bagging 15 goals in just 25 appearances. Pictures of the youngster sitting in the Stamford Bridge dugout leaked this week, heightening speculation that Carlo Ancelotti is to make a move for the young Belgian. Speaking of Lukaku, current Chelsea striker Didier Drogba said: “I received his phone number from Vincent Kompany.’You should sign for Chelsea,’ I told him.”
Unlike other Premier League sides Chelsea do not have a reputation for nurturing young talent. Would a switch to Stamford Bridge represent a wise move for Romelu Lukaku?
Since the start of Roman Abramovich’s association with the club, Chelsea have financially outmuscled several clubs in order to sign a clutch of talented, young players. For the majority of these players, a move to West London turned out to be a bad decision. The careers of England internationals Glen Johnson, Scott Parker and Shaun Wright-Phillips are all widely considered to have stalled and/or regressed at Stamford Bridge. Having fought tooth and nail to ‘illegally’ procure Leeds United’s youth-team duo Tom Taiwo and Michael Woods in 2006, a succession of Chelsea managers failed to utilise their talents; indeed Taiwo now plies his trade for Carlisle United, whilst Woods languishes in the Chelsea reserves.
The formative years within a player’s career are pivotal to one’s development. First-team football is generally considered to be the best way to facilitate the growth and development of one’s potential, and Lukaku will certainly be more likely to encounter such opportunities at Anderlecht.
Whilst Abramovich has provided signals that he is wishing to eke out the investment-heavy, ‘quick-fix-success’ nature of Chelsea’s existence since 2003, (with this summer’s signings of Tomáš Kalas and Matej Delač supporting the Russian’s assertions), it remains to be seen whether or not this will turn out to be the case. With Abramovich desperately trying to shed the club’s image of one as a trophy-buying, aging club, the signing of players such as Lukaku may be central to his intentions. Whilst a move for Lukaku may help Abramovich to achieve his aims, it may not help the young Belgian achieve his.
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