Real Madrid will target young Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku to bolster their already-frightening attack this summer, according to Daily Star reporter Rhys Turrell. But any deal for Lukaku will depend on the fate of current Los Blancos forward Alvaro Morata.
Turrell cites a report in Spanish publication AS stating Los Blancos chief Carlo Ancelotti is keen on Belgian sensation Lukaku. The powerful and pacey 21-year-old earned deserved plaudits during a successful loan tenure with Premier League side Everton last season.
But try as he might, Lukaku just can't convince Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho to give him a chance. The player recently announced his intention to seek a move away from Stamford Bridge, per Matt Law of The Telegraph:
You know Chelsea, every year they buy a new top striker. I remember me coming into the dressing room last year and seeing Samuel Eto'o and Demba Ba and going, 'Whoah! What's happening here?'
But no problem. Many clubs are interested in me. At this stage, I have to look to myself. I have to play a good World Cup. That's very interesting for all the players looking for a transfer. And I must be one of them. Chelsea know my point of view.
Lukaku is obviously not short of confidence in his own abilities or in his pull on the open market. He is certainly a player on the rise, combining awesome athleticism with excellent technique and steely composure as a finisher.
Madrid are joined by Wolfsburg in their admiration of Lukaku, as confirmed by the German club's sporting director Klaus Allofs to kicker via Sky Sports' Thomas Zocher:
"If the player is getting cheaper, maybe this affair is picking up pace. But even then we won’t be the only club chasing the player’s signature," Allofs said.
That only makes it more bizarre that he is continually overlooked by Chelsea. If it is simply a clash of personalities—or more precisely, egos—with Mourinho, then a move seems inevitable.
To many, including London Evening Standard Digital Sports Editor Amar Singh, selling Lukaku makes little sense for Chelsea:
A player with Lukaku's brash ambition would no doubt join Madrid in a heartbeat. But the current Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League holders must first resolve Morata's future.
Like Lukaku, Morata is a supremely gifted young striker. He's good in the air but is also skilled and tricky enough to operate out wide. The 21-year-old also boasts deceptive pace.
Not surprisingly, a player with those attributes has plenty of suitors. Serie A giants Juventus have been linked with a move, with Italian newspaper Tuttosport (via Marca) suggesting the player would welcome a move to Turin.
However, Arsenal are the most frequently linked with Morata. The problem is that the Gunners just can't seem to agree on a deal they like for the player.
Real recently placed a value of £24 million to purchase Morata outright, according to AS (via the London Evening Standard). Ideally, Los Blancos want a buyback clause inserted into any sale agreement, a term Arsenal flatly reject.
Ancelotti has stated Morata is free to leave the Spanish capital this summer. But the veteran Italian boss seemed to indicate a possible loan move might be best, according to Ben Curtis of the Daily Mirror:
The player wants to play more minutes and the club agrees. If he could find the chance of playing it would be good that he had the chance for a year.
If Morata goes then we'll have to think about signing a similar striker with the same characteristics, a youngster.
Ancelotti's statement has prompted interest from Spanish side Villarreal, per Marca. However, Madrid shouldn't necessarily be so eager to shove Morata through the exit door and welcome Lukaku.
For one thing, the Belgian would be unlikely to get the increased playing time he covets by moving to Madrid. Lukaku would be acting as deputy for a forward line containing Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.
There also isn't that much difference statistically to help choose between Lukaku and Morata. The former notched 15 goals and six assists in 33 league appearances, per WhoScored.com.
Morata had less minutes but still managed to make an impression. He scored eight goals in La Liga despite making only three starts. Morata also provided a goal and an assist in the CL, according to WhoScored.com.
Still, it seems clear that Madrid are determined to move Morata on this summer. It's also clear that if Ancelotti seeks a young replacement, he'll struggle to find better than Lukaku.