The young Belgian has returned to Goodison Park, this time in a permanent deal. The Toffees paid a club-record £28 million:
I don’t have any regrets. I am very happy with the choices I’ve made. Sometimes things like this happen in football. Sometimes it’s not meant to be. Chelsea are a big club and when I arrived I was 18. I was very ambitious. They taught me how to be a professional, a work ethic and a winning mentality. It is a great football club. I wouldn’t say anything bad about that club but I didn’t want to [sit] on the bench for 10 years.
For a club whose biggest problem last season was a dearth of talented strikers, it seems odd that Chelsea would sell one of the most promising young strikers in the world. Should something happen to Diego Costa, Mourinho would be relying on Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres.
That's not exactly the most reassuring thing to see.
Lukaku is 21 years old, and he's scored a combined 32 Premier League goals over the last two years, according to WhoScored.com. The next closest under-21 player from a top-five European league has 19 goals over the last two years:
Romelu Lukaku: Has scored at least 13 more goals than any other current U21 player in Europe’s top 5 leagues in the last 2 seasons #CFC— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) July 28, 2014
This is somebody who's only scratching the surface of his potential. Lukaku could easily become one of the top-five strikers in the world.
Chelsea had him under contract but decided for a variety of reasons that they'd be better off without him. Now they have to turn around and spend the money they received from Everton to buy a replacement for Lukaku to add depth at striker.
Some may argue that the Blues would've been foolish to hitch their wagons to a 21-year-old striker. You can't possibly win the Premier League or Champions League that way, can you?
Instead, they're going to rely on a 36-year-old Drogba, whatever's left of Torres and somebody who's never played in the Premier League and who has also scored more than 10 goals in a domestic campaign just once.
In Lukaku, Chelsea had a proven commodity in England. His career trajectory is only going up as well. Sure he's looked a little raw, but that's how almost all 21-year-olds are. You can't expect a player to be the finished product at that age.
The biggest reason many Chelsea supporters are grabbing onto to defend Lukaku's transfer is his supposed lack of motivation, which Mourinho brought up after the player was sold, per Sky Sports:
The thinking behind the move was the fact that Romelu was always very clear with us, in his mentality, in his approach, he was not highly motivated to come to a competitive situation at Chelsea. He wanted to play for Chelsea but he wanted to be clearly the first choice striker, which in a club of our dimension, it is very difficult to promise to a play. That reduced immediately his desire to come to us. Everton came in with an important offer.
Those who take that quote as gospel are discounting two ideas.
The first is that Mourinho is famous for mind games and using the press to further his goals/spin. It's very possible that he's overstating Lukaku's supposed prima donna attitude as a means to explain his transfer to Everton.
At West Brom in the 2012/13 season, Lukaku made 35 appearances, 15 of which were as a substitute. Lukaku was lethal coming off the bench and didn't rock the boat at The Hawthorns because he wasn't starting regularly.
In fact, he said then-Baggies manager Steve Clarke "made him a man" and "changed his life," via BBC Sport.
The second point is that Lukaku could've watched on as talented young players were either cast aside or marginalized at Chelsea and felt that his career wasn't in the best of hands.
Kevin De Bruyne did little at Stamford Bridge before being sold to Wolfsburg. Lucas Piazon has been loaned out again, as has Wallace, to the club that Piazon just departed. Who knows what's going on with Josh McEachran and Marko Marin?
Thibaut Courtois is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and helped Atletico Madrid win La Liga and reach the Champions League final. Despite that, he may not even have a spot in the first team with Petr Cech still at Stamford Bridge.
Financially, Chelsea look smart for having bought De Bruyne and Lukaku on the cheap and then sold them for massive profits:
Chelsea made 30 million euros profit on De Bruyne and Lukaku and they hardly played for the club. Good 'business'.— John Chapman (@BelgoFoot) July 30, 2014
That doesn't necessarily mean that those were good moves or that Chelsea handled each player with the utmost of care.
Mourinho also completely marginalized Juan Mata before selling him to Manchester United, not to mention his poor man-management with the Real Madrid squad being his ultimate undoing at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Perhaps the problem in this case isn't so much Lukaku as it is the Special One for highlighting a possibly nonexistent issue.
When looking at somebody to replace Lukaku, Chelsea supporters would love to get Radamel Falcao, Edinson Cavani or Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They're three extremely talented forwards.
However, did they demonstrate a similar lack of ambition by leaving Serie A (Cavani and Ibrahimovic) and La Liga (Falcao) to chase the riches of Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco? It would seem somewhat hypocritical to chastise Lukaku but give one of those three a pass.
How much more valuable is Champions League football when you're playing in Ligue 1, where PSG and Monaco are so much better than the rest of the league?
Mourinho's record speaks for itself in terms of his ability as a manager. He's one of the best in the world, hands down.
That doesn't mean he's completely immune from making mistakes, and in selling Lukaku to Everton, he messed up in a big way.