Lukaku endured a frustrating first season for the Blues. He'll be managed by Chelsea legend Steve Clarke, who's in his first full season as a top flight manager.
This article will assess Chelsea sending Lukaku to West Brom on loan.
From day one, André Villas-Boas froze Romelu Lukaku out, as if to tell management: "not my signing, not going to play him."
Lukaku told Sportwereld (via guardian.co.uk):
There is one person that I will never forgive for what he did to me—the previous coach. It's not just that. It was also the way he spoke to me and treated me.
Right from the beginning, it was weird. I could not stand how he was treating me. I received no explanation. In training, he put me on the right or left wing. In training matches, I was a substitute with a shirt to keep swapping teams. I really learned nothing.
Villas-Boas sabotaged Lukaku's development in a way similar to José Mourinho's use of Andriy Shevchenko as a pawn in a cold war against Roman Abramovich.
The loan to West Bromwich Albion gives Romelu Lukaku a fresh lease on life, having suffered heartache last season after securing a dream move to the club he supported.
He has shown glimpses of promise for Chelsea: seven goals in nine reserve games, an excellent performance against Blackburn Rovers, and he was football's answer to Marshawn Lynch against the Seattle Sounders.
When he was at Anderlecht, he was a man-child that dominated seasoned professionals. He was "the one," a superstar in the making and the next Didier Drogba.
Hindsight is 20-20, but he could have scored 30-plus goals—considering how good Matías Suárez, Lucas Biglia and Milan Jovanović played last season.
It was smooth sailing until Lukaku arrived at Stamford Bridge, where he suffered the first serious lull in his young career.
There were hints of depression with this sad quote:
When [Salomon] Kalou put the Cup on my lap in the bus I asked him to take it away immediately. I didn't want to touch it because, just as with the Champions League, I had no part in it at all. I don't like people talking to me about the Champions League. It wasn't me, but my team that won it.
If Lukaku has some backbone, he'll force his way into West Brom's starting XI, and score consistently to alleviate the pain he suffered last season.
In this regard, he needs some of Daniel Sturridge's egotism.
1. Peter Odemwingie
He's the best forward at the club by a considerable margin. When he's on song, he'll tear an opposing backline apart—as Wolverhampton Wanderers and Newcastle United found out. However, Odemwingie did go through two separate six-game stretches without a goal.
2. Markus Rosenberg
He turned down lucrative offers in China for a chance to play in the Premier League with compatriot Jonas Olsson.
Looking back at Rosenberg's career, he's generally played the Stéphane Guivarc'h role to deflect attention away from more talented teammates: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for Ajax, Claudio Pizarro for Werder Bremen and Zlatan Ibrahimović for Sweden.
3. Shane Long
He consistently harasses defenders, throws himself into aerial duals, and finishes his chances. His 4.75 shots per goal is better than Odemwingie's 7.7 shots per goal and Rosenberg's 8.2 shots per goal. Long's selflessness is the reason why he only averages 1.2 shots per game—which is too meek, because Nice's marauding left-back Fabián Monzón averages 1.9 shots per game.
4. Marc-Antoine Fortuné
He was anonymous in a 2-0 loss to Manchester United, and dire in a 1-0 win over Chelsea. He left West Brom supporters wishing they could switch him for Papiss Cissé, as the classy Senegalese forward ran rampant in Newcastle United's 3-1 win.
5. Chris Wood
He needs to develop quicker if he wants to rival Wynton Rufer's legacy. Wood has the right attributes to succeed in England's lower leagues, but it remains to be seen if he's Premier League standard.
6. Saido Berahino
He scored goals in loan stints with Northampton Town and Brentford. The 19-year-old has impressed Steve Clarke in preseason, but Berahino will need things to fall his way in order to get a chance in the first XI.
Romelu Lukaku will probably start the season as an impact sub. It's up to him to break into the starting XI.
It's a good deal for Chelsea and West Bromwich Albion. The Blues will be able to see if the Belgian can win a starting position over the likes of Markus Rosenberg and Shane Long.
West Brom have international quality depth in their forward line, which is excellent for a mid-table club.