Romelu Lukaku has no doubt attracted a lot of attention after his superb performances on loan for West Brom last season. The 20 years old Belgian striker netted 17 times in 38 appearances, scoring a goal every 2.2 games. Chelsea’s other strikers, Demba Ba and Fernando Torres, scored a goal every 3.7 games and 2.9 games respectively for Chelsea, leaving Lukaku with the best goals to games ratio.
Lukaku has been called the “new Didier Drogba” ever since his early career at Anderlecht and he certainly displays some similar traits. Lukaku is half an inch taller than Drogba at 6 foot 3 inches, compared to 6 foot 2.5 inches, and they both use their height and strength to their advantage. Both players have excellent hold up play, providing a useful outlet for their team when they’re under pressure by holding the ball up, then bringing other players into action. Both players also are surprisingly quick considering their size and use this pace, combined with their strength to beat defenders on a regular basis. Drogba was often described as a “big game player”, often coming up with the goods when Chelsea really needed him to. Drogba became the first player to score in 4 FA Cup finals in his last season at Chelsea and has scored in every appearance he has made at Wembley, with a total of 8 goals there. Of course, nobody could forget what was almost certainly his most important goal against Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final. We are yet to see whether Lukaku is also a “big game player” and whether he can handle the pressure in tense situations, because he has not yet featured in any particularly important games for either Chelsea or West Brom. However, on the final day of the 2012/13 season, he netted a hat-trick against Manchester Utd. in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game in charge, to help West Brom to a thrilling 5-5 draw. Whilst the game was not of particular importance, with the league already in Manchester Utd’s hands, Lukaku became only the 6th player to score a hat-trick against Ferguson’s team. Clearly Lukaku was not phased by the occasion. Lukaku also provides a dangerous aerial threat, although he is not quite in the same league as Drogba yet. However, at just 20 years old, Lukaku has plenty of time to improve and he undoubtedly has great potential.
However, the promising youngster’s future at Chelsea is not yet set in stone. He was extremely frustrated with the lack of first team football during his début season at Chelsea, with only 12 appearances, as it was made clear that he was fourth choice striker, behind Drogba, Torres and Sturridge. In a formation that uses only one striker, he was always going to struggle to make an impact. As a result, Lukaku left on loan to West Brom last season and had a fantastic time there. Yet more similarities between Drogba and Lukaku can be drawn here, with Drogba also being frustrated during his first couple of seasons at Stamford Bridge. Lukaku has said that he will wait to speak to Chelsea’s new manager, who is extremely likely to be Jose Mourinho, about his future, but has suggested he might favour a loan move in order to guarantee first team football, “I am tempted to play for clubs like Everton, Fulham or even West Bromwich Albion again.” However, reports suggest that if Mourinho does become Chelsea manager, he will not let Lukaku go on loan, with Mourinho seeing him as his new Drogba. Mourinho and Drogba had a truly fantastic relationship at Stamford Bridge, and many Chelsea fans would be licking their lips at the prospect of another wonderful partnership forming. Another partnership Chelsea fans will be eager to see is that of Eden Hazard and Lukaku. The fellow Belgians have played together on an international level, with Lukaku having 3 goals for Belgium and there is no doubt that they would trouble many defences in the Premier League. On the other hand, Chelsea look set to sign a new striker in the summer, being linked with Napoli’s Edison Cavani, Galatasaray’s Burak Yilmaz and even Luis Suarez. Mourinho tends to favour a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation, with only one striker, which means that Lukaku could fall down the pecking order again. If this is the case, then a lack of first team football will certainly not help his game to develop and he would be better suited to going on loan again to another Premier League club.
With such immense potential, Chelsea and Belgium fans will be praying that it does not go to waste and that he evolves into a truly magnificent striker for Chelsea FC. Who knows, perhaps he can even become as great as the legend himself, Didier Drogba.