Romelu Lukaku has returned to Stamford Bridge with high hopes—and doesn’t want to leave the club on loan for another season of first-team experience.
The former Anderlecht striker, who cost around £10 million more than a year ago, spent last season on loan at West Bromwich Albion. Lukaku was on a prolific scoring spree at the Hawthorns, but he has since re-joined his parent club for pre-season.
The 20-year-old has already conversed with Chelsea’s new boss Jose Mourinho over his long-term future at the club, stating his determination to stay in London.
He told Sky Sports:
We spoke and I want to keep it private because when you have confidential talks with the manager, it has to stay between you and him. We had a good talk and now it's up to me.
You never know in football but my mind is in Chelsea now and I have come back to do well in pre-season and if I do a good pre-season, I think I will have a place in the squad and hopefully in the starting 11.
Last year I had a great season at West Brom and I think have the qualities to do it here, but it is up to me. If I don't do well here, then loan again.
The Belgian added he was confident of making the first team, should he have a strong pre-season with the Blues. Lukaku is hopeful not to spend another season in the Premier League out on loan.
But as tweeted here by BBC’s Richard Conway, the 20-year-old pointed out his change in self-confidence and belief in his time at West Brom.
Very candid interview with Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku today. Says he went to WBA on loan as "a boy" and "came back a man." Report online soon.— Richard Conway (@richard_conway) July 15, 2013
His 17 goals under Steve Clarke last season was his best scoring return—impressive for a lad with five years of professional experience—having netted 15 and 16 in consecutive seasons for Anderlecht in the Belgian League.
Lukaku has more to his game than goals, though. Some have compared him to Didier Drogba because of his physique, build and powerful presence. Mourinho favoured Drogba in his 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 formations at Chelsea, and Lukaku looks like the focal point of the attack, potentially, for next season.
Deemed inexperienced, by some quarters, Lukaku can still boast 21 international appearances for Belgium, leading the line for one of the brightest sides on the continent on the verge of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
His understanding with team-mates Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne is a welcome asset to Mourinho, and despite his wealth of talents elsewhere, the boss shouldn’t ignore this opportunity.
De Bruyne will be looking to wriggle his way into the first-team fold after a similar 12-month away from the club at Werder Bremen.
Chelsea have lost out on potential targets, such as Radamel Falcao, to lead the front line, but Lukaku looks to be a talent worthy of his opportunity to star in the Premier League next season for Mourinho’s side.