Why Romelu Lukaku Is the Answer to Chelsea's Striker Problems
When you consider the array of attacking talent that is at Chelsea these days, it seems odd that the club are searching avidly for a new striker.
You could forgive Roman Abramovich for assuming having both Demba Ba and Fernando Torres in the squad would mean there is no need for him to sanction a purchase for a new forward, but that is the reality at Stamford Bridge, and it could be Torres who is sacrificed as a consequence.
But sometimes, what you are looking for is right in front of you. And for Chelsea, that is certainly the case with their young Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku.
Lukaku, signed from Jupiler League club Anderlecht for £18 million in the summer of 2011, has rarely featured for the club despite the departure of Didier Drogba at the end of last season. Instead, he was farmed out on to West Brom, managed by former Blue Steve Clarke, on a season-long loan deal.
And although he struggled to establish himself at Stamford Bridge during the early period of his Chelsea career, he has made a massive impact at West Brom, with the highly-rated striker becoming a hit with the West Midlands' faithful.
His return of 13 goals in 27 Premier League appearances has set the Hawthorns alight, with Lukaku forcing the likes of Peter Odemwingie out of the first team fold with some superb performances leading the line.
With his physical presence both in the air and on the ground, the powerful hitman has the strength to hold up the play, enabling him to become a target man, similar to former Blues legend Drogba. In addition to that, his recent interviews highlight his confidence in his own ability.
The distinction between the two, however, lies within his pace. Whilst Drogba relied on his strength and tendency to intimidate the opposition's defenders, Lukaku chases down every ball with energy and determination.
Any doubters of his work rate can refer to his second goal against Sunderland when he ran the best part of 60 yards chasing down the Black Cats' defence, and the end result was a clearance from Simon Mignolet deflecting off Lukaku into the net.
It was impressive to say the least, especially as the goal came late in the second half when your average player starts to feel fatigued. Not Lukaku though; he is as fit as a fiddle.
His finishing is sometimes inconsistent; he needs four or five chances a game to guarantee a goal, and perhaps it is that lack of killer instinct which explains why Chelsea loaned him out to gain more experience.
Certainly, like the majority of their decisions to loan out their bulging collection of potential stars, it has been a wise move from Chelsea.
Lukaku has even gone as far as saying that an extra year at West Brom would be beneficial to him, but with Torres and Ba struggling to fire on a regular basis, it seems unlikely they will allow him to stay an extra year.
The only stumbling block is that Roman Abramovich is desperately to make another marquee signing, with his most recent one, £50 million man Torres, fast becoming one of the biggest disappointments of his 10-year reign.
Radamel Falcao and Edinson Cavani have both been strongly linked with big-money switches to Stamford Bridge in light of Chelsea's striker crisis, but with Lukaku returning for the 2013/14 campaign, are they really required?
If you are someone who believes Didier Drogba never should have left Chelsea, then the answer is no. Because Romelu Lukaku is the man who can lead the Blues to glory, given the chance.
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