Romelu Lukaku: Analyzing His Role and Where He'll Do Damage for Chelsea
With the rumor mill still working overtime and big names like Radamel Falcao, Robert Lewandowski, Edinson Cavani and André Schürrle all being tossed around, it's no wonder many die-hard Blues fans have become a bit jaded about the constant and seemingly never-ending transfer speculation.
Wouldn't it be nice for Chelsea if the club already had a proven scorer it could turn to at the position should all these targets snub Stamford Bridge for perceived greener pastures elsewhere?
Say what brother? They already do? Romelu Lukaku? Oh what pleasant news to hear on this not-so-Blue Monday in which Chelsea finally unveiled that the legendary José Mourinho had signed a four-year deal to return to West London to see if he can work some of his managerial magic once again.
With Falcao now signed by Monaco, SI.com reporting that Lewandowski's agent said he's likely headed to Bayern Munich with his Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp assuming the 24-year-old may stay at Westfalenstadion and the Schürrle deal ostensibly hitting constant snags, Napoli's Cavani seems like the only real viable option left.
But what if Cavani—who has openly said it's his dream to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid someday as according to ESPNFC—decides to head to La Liga, somewhere else or just stay put at Napoli with new manager Rafael Benítez? Where would that then leave Chelsea?
In reality, should the 26-year-old Uruguayan who led Serie A with 29 goals not end up at Stamford Bridge, the Blues would be left to work with the two strikers it used last season—Fernando Torres and Demba Ba—and the extremely talented Lukaku who was loaned out to West Bromwich Albion last year should the club bring him back.
And that's not necessarily a bad problem to have should all three players ultimately play up to their potential in the coming season.
In English Premier League play last season, the three combined for 40 goals—Lukaku had 17 for the Baggies, Ba scored 15 between Newcastle United and Chelsea and Torres notched eight for the Blues—and with midfielders like Frank Lampard (15), Juan Mata (12), Eden Hazard (9), Oscar and Victor Moses all being able to put the ball in the back of the net, scoring might not be a problem with the mercurial 20-year-old back in West London.
Many have been quick to compare Lukaku to former Blues legend Didier Drogba and although the comparisons are warranted in terms of position, height, weight, hairstyle and African heritage—Lukaku is of Congolese descent—there will simply never be another player of Drogba's mystique to wear the Chelsea royal blue and white.
One area where Lukaku can be compared to the Ivorian legend, which he certainly proved at West Brom this season, is his wonderful ability to make something out of nothing near the opponents goal.
Both Torres and Ba seem to struggle getting into the flow of the Chelsea offense and often make the brilliant work of the attacking midfield all for naught which, in the end, creates often overlooked problems for the Blues stellar defense.
Another way Lukaku can prove some real value and do some offensive damage for Chelsea is as a star substitute who is expected to score should he find himself not deemed a starter by Mourinho behind Torres, Ba or possibly even Cavani.
But who knows now if "The Special One" decides to scrap the Blues familiar 4-2-3-1 tactical formation for his preferred 4-3-3 one and guys like Lukaku, Ba and Moses don't end up being the beneficiaries of such a move?
Only time will tell.
But one thing's for certain though: Now is the perfect time to bring Lukaku back into the fold as he certainly proved himself and improved as a player at The Hawthorns last season. He also finds himself often doing much of his damage coming in off the bench.
Some would argue that at 20, Lukaku is still too young to be a go-to guy for the Europa League champions. But having such a confidence-building and productive season at WBA combined with Mourinho likely makes him even a better player, and age should not be an issue here.
While just 16 years old at Anderlecht in 2009-10—and often employed as a substitute by the Purple & White—Lukaku led the Belgian Pro League in scoring with 15 goals.
And besides Lukaku's prowess as a scorer, he also is quickly evolving into an adept passer with solid football instincts and a guy whom opposing defenses had better not take an eye off of at their own peril.
Nothing against Torres and Ba, but Chelsea's lone two strikers last season—after Daniel Sturridge was sold to Liverpool over the winter transfer window—didn't exactly send shockwaves of fear through opponents the way a dangerous striker should, and hardly proved to be omnipresent goal threats as Drogba once was.
Having a player like Lukaku who can start and score early or come in off the bench and score late is a luxury few managers in European football enjoy, and one of Mourinho's first pieces of business should be to return the rock-solid (6'3", 235-pound) Belgian to the club where he can show off his synergy with countryman Hazard to the Premiership this coming season.
And despite all the 24/7 transfer hype, how nice for Chelsea to know it has a player of Lukaku's caliber waiting in the wings and ready to bloom for the Blues just like those beautiful and fragrant cherry blossoms.
Follow me on Twitter: @KevinStott11
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