So much has been made of Lukaku, both good and bad, since the season ended and it became apparent he was a very real target for us. So many words have been written and so much has been discussed. I don’t think there has been a signing that has divided Chelsea fans in a long time. I think I have made my position clear on Lukaku. I don’t particularly rate him, certainly not for the money being bandied about.
I will put on my objective hat though and attempt to shed some light in a positive way on the Belgian and the positive attributes he can bring to the club.
He loves the club.
This is is the most underrated aspect of the transfer and the one that has gotten the least press. When he joined back in 2011 much was made of Lukaku growing up with a Drogba picture on the wall and it became apparent the guy was a genuine Chelsea fan. Playing at the Bridge was something he dreamed of doing as a youngster and he was quite obviously desperate to do well. Whether this manifested itself in coming across as a tad over-emotional is up for discussion but there is no denying that should we sign him again this summer, we are signing a Chelsea fan. Something all of us should at least like about the guy.
He knows the league.
One of the main stumbling blocks for players joining the Premiership and one of the main reasons players don’t work out is the fact that new recruits sometimes just don’t “know the league”. Yes, it sounds a bit Little Englander but it is certainly something that has an effect on signings coming from abroad and a reason why English clubs can charge a premium on signings moving to other Premier League clubs, something we are finding out with our attempt to sign Van Dijk from Southampton. Shevchenko and Crespo were two high-profile strikers we signed with world class pedigree that struggled to adjust to the league. Crespo took a year out at Milan, coming back in 05/06 refreshed and ready but still only lasted another year. Shevchenko never worked out, fleeting moments of promise were frequently overshadowed by performances where he genuinely looked to be running in treacle. This isn’t the case with Lukaku. He has spent 6 years living in the country and 5 years as a regular Premier League striker. He knows the league and the defences as well as any other Premier League striker, something which can only work in our favour, should we choose to pay the money desired by Everton.
The key things desired by managers of Premier League clubs when identifying their perfect striker are varied. Two of the key attributes though, are always pace and power. Lukaku carries these in abundance. He carries the ball well, is able to push past players and drive toward the box. His power is apparent when outjumping and out-muscling defences all across the country. There is a case though that a more nuanced manager may be able to teach Lukaku how to use his power in an even more destructive manner. For all of Koeman’s good work last season, there is a feeling that Conte may be able to take Lukaku to the next level.
The mythical date of July 1st is almost upon us. Expect a swoosh of the curtain and behind it, five brand new signings.
Or something like that.