Romelu Lukaku – The future of Chelsea?

by Edward Watson

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

About two years ago I was first informed of a 16-year-old Belgian wonderkid named Romelu Lukaku. While I’m not a follower of Belgian football, I must admit I have loosely followed Lukaku’s career having heard of his talent, waiting patiently to receive the news that one of European footballs giants had put in a bid for him.

So it was of little surprise to me when just over a week ago I heard that Lukaku had completed a reported £20m deal with Chelsea.

Already, the now 18-year-old and full Belgian international, is being hailed as the new Didier Drogba before he’s even kicked a ball for Chelsea, but it’s easy to see why: For the past two seasons Lukaku has torn up the Belgian Pro League, scoring a combined total of 31 league goals, and added an additional eight in European competitions.

He has the same build as Drogba, uses his strength to turn players in the same way and has the ability to put the ball in the back of the net with both precision and power. On top of that their goal scoring records in the two seasons prior to joining Chelsea are almost identical.

But where Drogba’s career never really took off until he was 26, Lukaku has been presented the opportunity aged just 18. With the competition he faces for places it may take him a little longer than his Ivorian colleague to become a hero at his new club, but there’s no doubting that when given his opportunity Lukaku will flourish. And as Drogba and Anelka head towards retirement it does seem inevitable that Lukaku will be the natural filler for the positions they currently occupy.

Perhaps most importantly however, where other strikers given an opportunity like this at his age – take Rooney, or Balotelli, for example – have had a dark side they’ve had to contend with, Lukaku has shown a somewhat surprising maturity for a player of his age and skill. On the field he gives off the aura of a man ten years his senior which is what makes Lukaku such a dangerous player, and is perhaps the biggest reason to compare him to Didier Drogba.

In a league such as the Premier League, one that is considered one of the most physically demanding leagues, it’s important to have a cool head. A player that can take being roughed up and get on with it, particularly when arriving from abroad, is much more likely to succeed than one who can’t. Given the strength that Lukaku possesses I suspect he will fit in to the category of one who can.

But it’s not just his strength that makes him a deadly striker. To compare him to others who have succeeded in the Premier League; he has the strength of John Carew, the pace of Emmanuel Adebayor and the finishing ability of – dare I say it – Fernando Torres.

So, as you can see, I’m rather an admirer of young Romelu Lukaku and I await not only his Chelsea debut, but his Chelsea career, with baited breath and see if this Belgian hotshot can fulfil the potential he’s already shown at such a tender age.

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