According to a Daily Mirror report, the 19-year-old striker wants to return to Europe next season for a greater chance of obtaining a starting role in the 2014 World Cup with Belgium. Despite that fact, Lukaku doesn’t feel he is ready to start for the Blues and wants to go on loan elsewhere.
That Lukaku doesn’t want to play for Chelsea next term comes as a bit of a surprise. He has netted 13 goals in 15 starts with the Baggies and has exhibited the tremendous potential that made him such a highly coveted signing for Chelsea.
The striker had this to say of playing at Stamford Bridge in the future, as quoted in a February 25 Sky Sports report:
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.
Those comments suggest the ball is in Chelsea’s court, but it’s hard to believe that truly is the case in light of recent information. It seems Lukaku wants to control his own future.
Still, the Blues can’t pressure the youngster. Rushing into a career on such a big stage before Lukaku is ready will only serve to impede his development. Regardless of the need, the Blues have to take a patient approach with their budding star.
There’s no denying the upside of bringing Lukaku on board for next term, though. His magnificent striking ability would take a lot of pressure off Demba Ba and Fernando Torres, especially as a player capable of creating his own scoring. The appeal of adding him to the starting ranks is certainly palpable.
In the end, the decision will likely lie with the man who takes the reins in relief of Rafa Benitez. With that still very much up in the air, Lukaku’s future floats with it.
Decisions such as these are always difficult. There is no tenser balancing act than walking the line between patience and immediate success, but the former may be the best option in this case. Lukaku is still just 19 years old, and he’s still developing—his strong play with West Brom this season has proved that.
If the young striker wants to play elsewhere next term, Chelsea should respect his wishes and loan him out to a club on which he can continue strengthening his game with plenty of playing time and a lot less pressure than he'd be under at Stamford Bridge. It wouldn’t be a popular decision, but the benefit far outweighs the risk.