When Romelu Lukaku signed for Chelsea in August 2011 for £18million there were high hopes that he would light up the Premier League just like Didier Drogba had done at Stamford Bridge for the previous eight years.
The Blues though were aware that he wouldn’t be ready straight away so tried to instantly let the Belgian out on loan to Stoke City. The FA had other ideas though and were unable to sanction the move as he was not allowed to move twice in one window. It meant the former Anderlecht ace had to spend a year in relative obscurity at Stamford Bridge.
When he finally got a chance to move last August to West Brom on loan it gave him the perfect opportunity to show his capability to deliver at the highest level.
The 19-year-old certainly has taken this opportunity with both hands and his 10 Premier League goals have firmly put his name on the radar of those who had forgotten about Romelu Lukaku. His strength and physicality have proven to be a potent weapon.
It is ironic that back in West London they long for a centre forward who can fill the void that Drogba left last summer and Lukaku is performing brilliantly in the West Midlands.
This has left some to pose the question as to whether he would be able to finally make an impression at Chelsea if he chose to stay at the side he originally signed for in English football this summer. The Belgian international would obviously see the lure of playing in the Champions League and being able to revive the club’s fortunes in the process.
The reality though would be completely different and he should be careful what he wishes for when his spell ends at The Hawthorns.
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He is far from the finished product just yet and needs to still hone his game in particular his first touch. Lukaku still has a battle on his hands to fight off Shane Long when Steve Clarke goes for a 4-5-1 from the start. The Baggies’ 2-0 victory at Anfield was proof of this as Lukaku was forced to make an impact coming off the bench.
Romelu Lukaku need look no further than Daniel Sturridge who had half a season of stardom at Chelsea before being cruelly thrown into the waste pile. There are plenty examples of this as Florent Malouda is testament to – he was once a Chelsea player of the season.
Roman Abramovich strives for perfection at Chelsea and accepts nothing that falls short of his expectations. This summer may provide a red herring for the fringe players at Stamford Bridge. They will hope that next season is a chance for them to set an impression for whoever will be in charge, in what is sure to be a pivotal season in the short term future of the football club.
The Russian owner though will be wanting nothing from the past to affect the chances of future success. If Romelu Lukaku expects the Chelsea owner to have paid a thought to his ambition he is much mistaken.
Demba Ba may have had a potent goalscoring record at Newcastle of 29 goals in 54 appearances but even such a signing left last season’s European Champions underwhelmed. It is something Lukaku should have watched with interest. Chelsea fans want a name to immediately bring glitz and glamour and be a sensational all round striker. Whilst Demba Ba may be a superb scorer he is not that, nor is Lukaku.
The Belgian was shipped out on loan for a reason, because he was surplus to requirements. He was not an instant success and his reputation became tainted.
Abramovich has shown he is ruthless in his quest for success and in the summer you suspect that he will finally bring in a stellar name to lead the line in the mould of Cavani or Falcao. The fact that Chelsea favour playing one striker up top means that Lukaku would have a battle just to receive substitute appearances with both Torres and Ba. A tall order for any developing centre forward.
Lukaku has done enough to show that he could forage a career in the Premier League. If he is to succeed though he needs to leave Chelsea.
It may appear lunacy on the face of it with the Blues lacking that final incision in central attack this season, but if we are to see the best of the Belgian international he needs to move on in the summer.
The 2014 World Cup is looming and with Belgium currently in a golden era of talent Lukaku needs to ensure he boards the plane to Brazil should his country qualify. If this is to happen he needs to be playing regular football.
Romelu Lukaku has the potential to be a real star but he needs to have an arm around his shoulder and to be wanted at a club and seen as the main attraction.
There will be no shortage of clubs in the top half such as Newcastle, Stoke and his current loan club West Brom who would maintain an interest in him in the summer and he may want to consider this for the rest of the season.
This current spell is Lukaku’s shop window to earn a transfer to a top half Premier League club and he would be wise to consider that with his performances from now until May. If not he could all of sudden find next season he is left in the doldrums once again.