Romelu Lukaku said in the week following the biggest night in Chelsea’s history, that he felt no joy in our Champions League and FA Cup wins, due to the insignificant role he played. Not in the squad for the Champions League campaign, and barely featuring in the FA Cup (if ever), this should be treated as good news for Chelsea fans and not as Lukaku simply throwing his toys out of his prams.
The initial reaction to such a statement would be one of disgust and maybe even thinking that Lukaku isn’t a team player, and doesn’t care about the club. This would be unfair and untrue to think this. Lukaku has been a Chelsea fan for many years, and had wanted to play for the club for many years. When at school, he even came to Stamford Bridge on a tour and said that he would play for the club at some point.
After a disappointing opening season, with only 4 starts, and having spent most of his time languishing in the reserves, it was unsurprising to hear these comments from Lukaku. This is a guy who we signed for a reported £20 million, and who had a very impressive record in the Belgian league (albeit the standard is quite poor) for such a young player. When he played last season, he did show glimpses of promise. A powerful player, with pace and skill, he is definitely a rough piece of coal at the moment, as opposed to a diamond.
He started the last league game of the season against Blackburn, and caused problems for the defence in that game, and even provided an assist. At the moment, that’s probably Lukaku’s level. He’ll do well against teams towards the bottom of the table, but wouldn’t really trouble teams higher up in the table. But that’s not to say that this won’t change.
There’s been many comparisons with Drogba, with many premature videos on YouTube titled ‘the new Drogba’. This is unfair on the boy, as this will only put pressure on him, when really he won’t ever reach the same levels that King Drogba reached. Do Chelsea need a player like Lukaku, with the system we’re looking to play now? It doesn’t hurt to have a plan B. If at times in the future, the passing game isn’t working, the strength of Lukaku could be a huge weapon for Chelsea, and give us an extra dimension. Whereas in the past, a big target man has been our main way of playing, in the future it will be our backup plan.
Now moving on to the point of this article. I was glad to see Lukaku saying that he didn’t feel any joy with these wins. Even though there are pictures which show clearly, him celebrating just as much as anyone, I understand what he meant. He won’t look back on those cups as his achievements because of his lack of involvement. He wants to win these competitions, along with others, with him involved on a greater scale. He wants to show to people that he will be a good, maybe even great player for Chelsea, and can put his own stamp on the team’s future.
Whilst at the moment, he may have to go out on loan in the Premier League (with West Ham interested) in order to continue his development, that would do him the world of good. If Lukaku was to have a strong season next year whilst on loan, he could benefit the same way as Sturridge did. Danny went on loan to Bolton, scored 12 goals, and had a very impressive half season back at Chelsea, even if he did trail off towards the end. But this is what Lukaku needs to do. If he stays at Chelsea, I’m sure he’d be given chances to prove his worth. We have to remember that this guy is only 19, and Drogba didn’t peak for a number of years, then we may be able to appreciate how much potential this guy has. He won’t ever be able to replace Drogba, but it’s possible he could prove to be a key asset for Chelsea.