When Romelu Lukaku signed for Chelsea, almost all of us immediately thought he would be the natural replacement for Didier Drogba.
Lukaku has a powerful physique, is quick and muscular, and we had hoped that working with Didier Drogba on a daily basis, we would see him grow and develop his game.
The problem Lukaku had was a real lack of games as he fought a battle with Drogba and Torres for a regular start in the team and it never happened for him. When he did make an appearance, he looked short of confidence, match fitness and, in addition, was asked at times to play out wide rather than through the middle. That first season never worked out as he made just eight appearances.
Then last season, we all saw what happened when he took the opportunity to go out on loan, despite the fact that Didier Drogba left the club!
We all watched and saw a different player emerge from what we had seen at Chelsea. A player with confidence, the backing of his manager and regular involvement in the team. He went onto score 17 goals in the Premier League last season including a hat trick in the final game against Manchester United!
He spoke at the training ground as we started our pre season and said:
“It is good to be back. It was always my aim to come back, so now that I am here I am happy. I want to improve as much as I can and be an important figure for this club.
I am very ambitious and also very young and I want to work hard and play as much as I can, but it is up to me.
If I keep going like I did last year I think it will not be a problem. I am really determined to do well and hopefully help the team to success.”
With the new season upon us and Jose Mourinho back in charge, all eyes will be on Lukaku. You see he is a totally different player now because he played for a manager who believed in him, his ability and his raw talent and I can see Mourinho doing exactly the same.
I have said it on here before that Lukaku provides Chelsea with the option we had been lacking last term. Yes, we had the attacking flair with the three players pushed forward supporting the striker; but at times, we needed something different.
Fernando Torres and Demba Ba are not the type of forwards who can hold the ball up and bring others into play. It’s not their natural game.
Lukaku gives us the Drogba option back again. He is tall, powerful and has the presence to do exactly that with the addition of pace to mix things up with our play and provide an alternative for Mourinho.
Last season, Chelsea had become one-dimensional at times . Teams studied our play and dealt with the threat we posed them. In some games, we struggled to break teams down as they made it difficult for us. We didn’t have the option to bring on a powerhouse up top to change it.
Everything right now is in place for Lukaku to kick on, get his head down and work hard this pre-season to prove himself once again here. It sounds ridiculous to say it really based on last season; but as we know, Mourinho wants to have a look at everyone this pre season.
Lukaku has a massive chance to finally become an established player for Chelsea from this moment on and I just hope he takes it with both hands!
It’s time to shine Romelu Lukaku, make sure you do!