Chelsea weren’t gun-shy about dolling out the cash to acquire Romelu Lukaku’s services. They shouldn’t be anxious to bring him on board for next season, though.
The 19-year-old striker has enormous potential, but he wouldn’t be seeing the regular playing time to warrant keeping him on the roster for this season. In an attempt to develop their young talent, Chelsea loaned Lukaku to West Bromwich Albion.
Lukaku has played well for West Brom, netting 12 goals for the Baggies in his time on loan. With regular playing time in the cards, there’s reason to believe the young striker can continue to develop the impressive skills that made him a coveted prize for the Blues.
Lukaku doesn’t have a lot of holes in his game, but there is the potential for him to develop into a well-rounded player and not just a striker with terrific scoring ability. The physical tools are there, but the only way he can develop into a complete player is to spend as much time on the pitch as possible.
While the 19-year-old would probably love to play a big role in the success of a club currently third in the Premier League table, he’s not in any rush to dive in (as quoted by SkySports.com):
I don't know what Chelsea will decide. We'll have a chat about how to build up a good career for me there. There are a lot of clever people over there and they're seeing that I am playing in a good way. Every 10 days I have a meeting with Chelsea. Sometimes they just come and talk with me and say what I have to improve, if I go back there I have to be like this or like that. There is a lot to improve on. I am only 19 so I can improve loads. They will see maybe I need one more year or maybe I don't. I have a great understanding with them.
Lukaku is obviously humble enough to understand he can’t rush into a career at Stamford Bridge. There are areas of his game that he can improve, and the best way to do that is to continue developing with a club that will afford him the playing time to do so.
The line between phenom and bust is a fine one to walk when dealing with a youngster who hasn’t yet hit the two-decade mark. The pressure of asking him to do too much could ultimately be a setback in development, and the risk of rushing him into a position with the Blues before he is ready is too great a gamble.
With his size, speed, athleticism and awareness, the Belgium international has the makings of a superstar, and there’s no reason to stunt his development by relying on him too heavily in a hunt for EPL glory next season.
That said, there’s no reason Chelsea can’t roll the dice on Lukaku staying at West Brom with the intent of bringing him back early next season. Every bit of experience will go a long way in his development, but there’s also no need to extend his stay if the Blue ultimately decide it has run its course.
The decision will potentially fall on the shoulders of whoever is running the club following this season. With that very much up in the air, only time will tell what will come of Lukaku’s stay with West Brom.