Why Chelsea Should Allow Romelu Lukaku to Transfer out of Stamford Bridge

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Why Chelsea Should Allow Romelu Lukaku to Transfer out of Stamford Bridge
Michael Sohn/Associated Press

The season is over, yet Chelsea's strikers continue to make headlines.

Romelu Lukaku is the latest Chelsea frontman to hit the back pages, with The Independent reporting the Belgian is to be offered a new contract to remain at Stamford Bridge beyond his existing deal that expires in 2016.

Lukaku has been a Chelsea player since joining from Anderlecht for £18 million in 2011, but he is yet to make the impact we have seen elsewhere.

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In his native Belgium, the 21-year-old earned a Europe-wide reputation for his performances at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, sealing his move to the Premier League.

After a largely frustrating debut season with Chelsea, he spent a year on loan at West Bromwich Albion, firing home the goals that saw the Baggies record an impressive top-10 finish.

Since then, Lukaku has made the step up to feature for Everton this past season, scoring 16 goals in all competitions.

For all his endeavors, however, Lukaku is still to show he is capable of cutting it at the highest level with Chelsea.

Clint Hughes/Associated Press

Confident and brazen in West Brom or Everton colors, the player we have seen at Stamford Bridge has been far from the same man.

His appearances have been few, and when Lukaku has stepped out as a Chelsea player, he hasn't fitted the mould of a man who truly believes he belongs.

There has been a fear about Lukaku, as if the weight of expectation is too much for him to bear.

Moments such as last summer's Super Cup define the careers of players, regardless of their age.

When Lukaku's chance to shine came in the penalty shootout against Bayern Munich, he lacked the courage and conviction to convert from 12 yards, seeing his penalty easily saved by Manuel Neuer.

Put him in any other shirt and it may have been a different story. With Chelsea, it was another test failed, and not long after he was pitching up at Goodison Park for the season.

Lukaku's spells at West Brom and Everton have shown what he can do when confident. The big difference is, at those clubs it's very much about Lukaku—he's the focal point of the attack.

At Chelsea, he is just a face among many and will play every week with the pressure of knowing a poor run of form will result in him losing his place.

At 21, it's a considerable burden to carry. Only when we consider some of the greatest players in the modern era, it's one they have often risen above.

Brazil's Ronaldo burst onto the scene as a youngster with PSV Eindhoven, earning a move to Barcelona where he became the Catalans' star.

CESAR RANGEL/Associated Press

A pre-injury-stricken Michael Owen carried the hopes of Liverpool and England from the age of 17, while Lionel Messi himself has been doing the same for club and country since his teens.

There are many more big names besides. How does Lukaku fit in? Right now, he doesn't.

It's big fish syndrome, and when Lukaku is forced to compete with stars of equal billing and more, he has come up short.

For any player with the ability Lukaku possesses, that player's character and mental capabilities shouldn't come into question, although they are.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

What does it say about his long-term ability to withstand the criticism and expectation that comes the way of any striker at Stamford Bridge these days? Not much.

Given everything Chelsea want to achieve, Jose Mourinho requires players of a certain temperament. The Chelsea manager requires a Ronaldo, Owen or Messi—not players who are weak-willed.

After all, he has the likes of Demba Ba, who has frustrated him all season with his failure to cope. He doesn't want to be replacing like for like.

On the surface, Lukaku's goal return during his two loan spells in England has impressed. We shouldn't let that fool us, however. There is still much to prove, and right now it doesn't seem Lukaku will.

 

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes

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