WHO: Romelu Lukaku
TO WHERE: Chelsea
FROM WHERE: Inter Milan
FOR HOW MUCH: €110m ($129m)
GRADE FOR CHELSEA: B+
GRADE FOR INTER MILAN: C
Seven years after being sold as a reject by Chelsea, Romelu Lukaku returns to Stamford Bridge as the club’s most expensive signing of all time. Because of the crazy amount being paid by the European champions, expectations will be high. It’s on the Belgian striker to prove he can meet those high standards.
That being said, the Blues are getting a striker at the height of his career & rich in terms of experience. He should adapt into Thomas Tuchel’s style with ease & score lots of goals. That being said, unless he’s able to make an impact like Erling Haaland (whom Chelsea missed out on & had to focus on him), Lukaku could end up failing to justify his price tag.
WHO IS HE?
Romelu Lukaku is a 28-year-old Belgian International, who is also the highest goal-scorer in Belgium’s history. He started off his career with Anderlecht before being signed by Chelsea in 2011.
However, Lukaku only made 10 appearances with the Blues before a string of loan moves to West Bromwich Albion & Everton. He was then sold to Everton in 2014 and spent 3 years with them, scoring 53 goals in 110 Premier League games.
Lukaku signed to Manchester United in 2017 & made 96 appearances for them, scoring 42 goals. He joined Inter Milan in 2019, winning the Serie A title with them and scoring 64 goals in 94 appearances.
IS THE PRICE FAIR?
Just to prove how much they’re paying for him, Chelsea sold Lukaku to Everton in 2014 for $43m. They’re now three times that amount to sign him. They’re definitely overpaying here.
Unless able to manage 30+ goal seasons& help Chelsea win the Premier League & Champions League titles, he won’t be able to get rid of his ‘overpriced’ tag anytime soon.
WHAT IMPACT CAN HE MAKE?
Since his days at Man United, Lukaku has been a very polarizing character in world football. On one hand, he can be an absolute goal-machine when on form and loves bullying defenders & scoring against regular sides. But then again, he has a bad reputation of flopping in the ‘big games’.
His success at Chelsea will be dependent on two things. Whether he’s able to change that reputation in ‘big games’ & consistently score goals. Or if Chelsea are able to get the best out of him through regular games and be willing to write off his disappointments against top teams.
That being said, Lukaku has definitely matured as a top-level striker in recent years. For Inter last season, he scored in all the domestic ‘big games’. He knows all too well how to excel in the Premier League & that experience should give Chelsea’s front-line that shot in the arm they desperately need to get to the next level.
A confident Lukaku, meanwhile, can be a nightmare to deal with. The Belgian is a hulking figure who loves bullying centre-backs with his physicality & surprising burst of pace. With his impressive link-up style, ability to pop into key goal-scoring areas & unpredictable creativity, he could help unlock Chelsea’s young attacking players.
Indeed, his adaptability can hugely benefit Timo Werner – who endured a difficult first season at Chelsea. There’s no more pressure of having to score every game for Werner anymore because of Lukaku’s efficiency in doing that. Moreover, Werner now has a partner to create more goals for him & open up space for himself to get into more scoring areas.
Lukaku should also be a delight for Chelsea’s creative outlets like Kai Havertz, Reece James, Mason Mount & Hakim Ziyech. The Belgian striker really doesn’t need many opportunities to score. As long as the delivery is precise in the final third, he’ll slot them into the back of the net. Be it scoring from headers, simple tap-ins or finishing off quick breaks, he can do it all!
He can play in a two-man forward line with Werner with ease. The 28-year-old can also efficiently play as a lone no.9. It’s just that he needs to be more decisive in clutch situations, especially in the big games. Lukaku’s inability to make the right decisions are one of his weak points.
The biggest weak point, however, is his first touch. The Belgian striker has been a victim of a lot of brutal mockeries because of some of his near-comical failed first touches. That’s one aspect he must improve to be a goal-scoring beast for Chelsea. But apart from those meager issues, there are no real flaws in Lukaku’s game.
With Tuchel’s system being beneficiary for a striker, the Belgian star should revel in it. Last season, For example, Chelsea ranked 1st in terms of goalscoring chances created (188) since the German gaffer took over in January 27 until the end of the Premier League season. They just didn’t have a striker clinical enough to convert all those.
But now they do have one who will, at least, convert the majority of them. With an abundance of creativity supporting him, Lukaku should enjoy his second-coming at Stamford Bridge & script a nice little redemption story in his second stint with Chelsea.
Apart from a few issues, Lukaku is a complete striker at the height of his game & a really solid signing. He should be a real goal machine for Chelsea & score a bunch of goals over the next few years. However, that insane price tag acts like a damper in this deal – which will only go away if the Belgian helps the Blues win the Premier League next season.
Inter Milan (C)
Inter have received a huge amount of money to sell Lukaku, but that’s just about everything ‘good’ about this sale. The Belgian striker was undoubtedly their best player & one of the biggest reasons behind their Serie A title win last season. Because of financial crunches, they can’t afford a replacement as good as him. The Italian side will definitely miss him hugely next season and probably struggle to even fight for the Serie A title without him next season.