IBWM StaffComment


IBWM StaffComment

21     Striker     Everton     Belgium

2014 has been…

…interesting and, perhaps, pivotal.

Whatever the truth of their relationship it’s clear that José Mourinho expected more of fight from Romelu for his Chelsea career. On paper there was an opportunity this summer. Last season proved the desperate need for a striker of Lukaku’s quality what with Schürrle, Ba and Eto’o never moving from “handy” to “prolific” and Fernando Torres being Fernando Torres. After a highly promising season on loan at Everton where he became a huge part of their emergence from the Moyes mist that had moved a few miles down the M62, there seemed to be a round peg for a round hole already on Chelsea’s books.

But something never felt quite right. José had already questioned the attitude of a player he felt should have placed more stock in fighting for a first team place than a loan to somewhere with one virtually guaranteed. There should have been no shock in Romelu’s desire to play however; he ended his first season at Stamford Bridge openly stating how disappointed he had been with a lack of opportunity and then while on loan at West Brom made it clear he wanted to return to Chelsea with a guarantee of games. This is a footballer that wants to play football and always has. This is no bad thing.

At Everton last season he proved to be a highly effective Premier League striker. Statistics never tell the full story but 15 goals and 6 assists in 31 games is impressive. Stats to one side there was also what your saw with your own eyes; the move to the right of a front three that destroyed Arsenal at Goodison Park, a very promising and still developing understanding with Ross Barkley, really good striker’s goals against Manchester City, Southampton and Newcastle, a brace in the heat of a Merseyside derby, and an excellent work rate and attitude throughout. This was enough to convince Everton to spend big to secure him on a permanent basis, and it’s time to start repaying that transfer fee (football cliché 101 right there).

What's next?

His form last season, slightly hampered by an injury whilst at his best, saw him go to the World Cup with Belgium this summer. Whilst in Brazil he fell in line with the slight disappointment of the Red Devils campaign but did produce some good moments, most notably a terrific finish in Belgium’s game with the USA that emerged as many people’s favourite match of Brazil’14. Internationally he remains in direct competition with the gradually returning to form Christian Benteke, if they can find a way to play in tandem that looks like a very good strike partnership in the making. They are similar in many ways so it may prove to be one or the other, meaning his assertion that he must play as often as possible could prove to be a very sensible view to take.

After the World Cup came the move to Everton and to a safer first-team position away from the politics of his status at Stamford Bridge. He needs to take this chance and after a slow start his recent form has been much improved. He’s young, played a lot of football last season and spent the summer at the World Cup so fatigue demands that this could be a less high profile year, but he looks like a man happy in his surroundings and in a system that uses him well. At just 21 he has already moved for transfer fees amounting to over £40 million, it feels like time to settle away from the transitive nature of a loan, play and continue to work as hard as he has to date. José might, *might*, just live to regret not putting his fabled arm around Romelu a bit more.

“Before joining Chelsea there was talk of him becoming one of the best strikers in the world, is that level of promise still there? Not quite but it’s clear he’s well on his way to becoming an excellent footballer with a chance of being world class. Everton seems like a good place to grow for a few years then a mega-move may come which should prove not to be too early this time”Dave Hartrick

"Romelu Lukaku has scored 32 Premier League goals as a loan signing, more than any other player in the history of the competition." - OptaJoe

C+     Chelsea came too soon and then the first team chance wasn’t there as he would have liked. He now has it all ahead of him and a manager who believes; this year may be steady but after that it could be spectacular

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