As Chelsea are reportedly set to make an improved offer for Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku, let’s take a look at how the striker might fit into Thomas Tuchel’s system.
Under Antonio Conte last season, the 28-year-old mostly played as a duo alongside Lautaro Martinez in a 3-5-2 formation.
It is slightly different from Tuchel’s 3-4-3 (or rather 3-4-2-1) structure, which operates with a lone striker.
Obviously, Tuchel would not have any problem adjusting his system to suit his players. He is, after all, known as a tactical chameleon.
At Chelsea, Lukaku would also have plenty of potential new strike partners. Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, and even Hakim Ziyech have all played as a pair up front under Tuchel.
A clinical goalscorer Chelsea have yearned for?
Chelsea ranked fourth in terms of creating big chances in the Premier League last season (63), below Liverpool (82), Manchester City (79) and Manchester United (68) (Opta via Premier League’s official website).
Out of those 63 big chances, only seven were converted into goals, 56 were missed.
Unsurprisingly, Werner has missed most big chances (18). From his 12 expected goals (xG), he only scored 6 in the league.
Would Lukaku’s arrival be a solution to this? It is difficult to tell.
The Belgium international actually missed a lot of big chances as well last season (19), but outperformed his xG (22.7) and impressively ended up with 24 goals.
In other words, despite missing easy chances, Lukaku made up for it by scoring from difficult situations as well.
It is pretty much his best weapon.
Out of 24 goals he scored in the Serie A last season, 16 were left-foot shots, and only one came from a header.
Thus, Tuchel might want to reduce the number of high crosses from Reece James or Ben Chilwell if Lukaku were to join Chelsea.
Instead, Lukaku thrives when he has the ball at his feet inside the penalty area, wherefrom he scored 23 out of his 24 Serie A goals.
Does he really have a poor first touch?
Unfortunately, the claims about his poor control are not entirely baseless.
Lukaku lost possession of the ball due to poor touches 93 times last season. To put it into perspective, Werner had 86 unsuccessful touches.
Conte’s counter-attacking football likely played a part as well, however, since Lukaku’s partner Martinez also had 90 unsuccessful touches.
Creator as well as goalscorer
This is arguably what makes Lukaku such an interesting striker — and likely why Conte deployed him in a two-striker system.
He created 52 chances in last season, second-most among Serie A centre-forwards, only behind Ciro Immobile.
At Chelsea, only Mason Mount created more chances in Premier League last term (87), with a quite significant gap to second-placed James (42).
The likes of Havertz and Werner would certainly benefit from Lukaku’s playmaking ability, assuming that Chelsea manage to convince Inter to sell in the first place.