Given Chelsea’s much reported desire to sign a new frontman this summer, it seems somewhat ironic that their most efficiently functioning striker in Romelu Lukaku, hasn’t in fact kicked a ball in anger for the Blues this season.
The big Belgian has of course been a revelation during his loan spell under Steve Clarke at West Browmich Albion and with 13 goals to his name in the Premier League this season, only Demba Ba – who has bagged just the two league goals since December – has scored more on Chelsea’s books.
But with the Stamford Bridge outfit continuously being linked with names such a Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani, it seems that Lukaku might be heading back to West London with his path to the first team shut off for yet another season.
The Antwerp-born talent might not have the box-office allure or the continental pedigree of a Falcao or a Cavani, but at only 19 years of age and with a solid season of Premier League football – not to mention a steady slew of goals, too – are Chelsea looking in the wrong place for a frontman that they already possess?
Were you to scour the list of strikers currently plying their trade in this league that might potentially interest the Stamford Bridge hierarchy, you can’t imagine too many would provide quite as an attractive option as what Lukaku does; should he theoretically not already belong to Chelsea in the first place.
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With 13 league goals, Lukaku has only been outscored by five other players this season and when you consider the illustrious names that sit above him in scoring charts, his tally looks all the more impressive.
Strong, fast and incredibly powerful, Lukaku has looked equally adept travelling with the ball at speed as he as dropping deep and bringing others into play. He has all the attributes a modern striker needs to make it at the very top but most prominently, the former Anderlecht man is yet to move out of his teens. Few of can lay claim to such an extensive skill-set and even fewer can claim to have scored so many in what is still essentially his breakthrough season in English football.
Considering all the above, if Lukaku was one of the hottest bits of teenage striking talent in Europe before he signed for Chelsea, surely both his stock and value have increased even further beyond the fledgling prospect that the Blues initially shelled out an initial £10million to attain.
Bar a largely unproductive first season at the Blues, Lukaku’s development arguably couldn’t have gone any better, with the 6ft 3 striker now well accustomed to the rigours of English football and ready to evolve onto the next level. Should Chelsea go out and purchase another forward, however, they may essentially be sabotaging one of the best bits of business they’ve done in years.
Perhaps it’s because we’ve heard his name linked with a move to one of Europe’s big guns so frequently ahead of his move to Chelsea, that we’ve forgot quite how young he is, but Lukaku isn’t some established striking force performing at the peak of his powers. At only 19, there is so much improvement still there to be made and potential left to fulfil. If you consider there’s every chance he could finish the season as one of the top five goalscorers in the Premier League, that’s quite some prospect.
Although should they go out and purchase a ready-made, £40million bit of striking talent, they may essentially be casting one of their most promising investments in years to the sidelines.
The best place to continue the momentum that Lukaku has gathered at West Brom, is to go back to Stamford Bridge and start playing alongside the Juan Matas, Eden Hazards and Oscars of this world. After bagging 13 goals and counting in an efficient, yet ultimately modest Baggies side, who knows what he might be capable of with the sort of service he’ll be afforded at his parent club?
Yes, Lukaku isn’t obviously at the sort of level either Falcao or Cavani are within European football and he doesn’t currently have a 30 goal season to his name, or not yet he doesn’t, anyway. While the aforementioned duo are aged 27 and 26 respectively, at 19, of course Lukaku isn’t going to be able to hold a candle to their scoring records, but the potential is there. And let’s not forget, Chelsea have been down the ready made route before.
It would be naïve to suggest that Radamel Falcao might necessarily suffer the same fate as Fernando Torres, but the man that’s causing them to go out and potentially spend another gargantuan amount of money, is living evidence that mass expenditure doesn’t always equate to guaranteed quality. Like Andriy Shevchenko before him, the Spaniard’s fortunes at Stamford Bridge should serve as a solid warning before the club authorizes another bank-breaking investment up front.
He’s got the skill-set needed to lead the line on his own, a proven ability to cut it in the Premier League and in a decade’s time, he’ll still only be 29. What’s more, he won’t cost Chelsea a single penny to attain. Romelu Lukaku is just the striker that Chelsea have been looking for, but despite looking like the perfect fit for the puzzle, you get the impression the Blues would rather take a punt on another rather expensively attained alternative.
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