Blog by: Matt Vincent
Romelu Lukaku joined Everton on transfer deadline day in a move that will break the hearts of West Brom fans the world over. The Chelsea forward, who spent last season on loan with the Baggies, netted 17 times in 38 appearances for the Midlands club, making him one of the most prolific strikers in the EPL.
However, while many Baggies fans clung to the hope of Lukaku re-joining their club late on Monday night, Lukaku instead decided to join Roberto Martinez’s Everton side. In explaining his decision, Lukaku said, “West Bromwich Albion was also there but I didn’t want to choose the easy option. We must face challenges and mine will be at Everton. “
Chelsea had initially indicated they would not be allowing Lukaku to leave after he impressed on loan at The Hawthorns last season. The Belgian was in favour at Stamford Bridge early in the season, playing in three of Chelsea’s first four matches. However, competition for places has become intense with the arrival of Samuel Eto’o from Russia, and in light of that Jose Mourinho has allowed him to make the temporary move to Merseyside.
Lukaku explained that Mourinho’s decision was the best solution for all parties: “Jose Mourinho called me and he was clear with me. It is better like that. I like it when a coach is honest. He is the best coach I have had. He wanted to make me better and did it with a firm hand. Together, we agreed that a loan was the best solution.”
Behind Gareth Bale’s record signing for Real Madrid and Mezut Ozil’s arrival at Arsenal, this should stand as the third most important transfer of the summer in the Premier League. More importantly, it is also perhaps the single smartest deal of the entire transfer window.
As Lukaku referred to, it was the best solution for everyone. Both clubs, as well as the player himself, should benefit immensely from the season-long loan. It is a rare occasion of a win-win-win situation in the transfer market.
Whenever you have a promising young player, who isn’t going to be a first team regular, it is always beneficial to get him out on loan. Despite his Premier League experience, Lukaku is still a very young player, and Mourinho is clearly not yet comfortable allowing him to spearhead a Champions League-calibre attack. Giving the Belgian another season of playing consistent football at the top-level is about the best preparation Chelsea could ask for if they want Lukaku to be the future of their football club.
As a bonus, this is a much better situation for Chelsea than if Lukaku were going back to West Brom. He is going to be playing for a side in Everton that should be competing for a European place. Lukaku never faced that situation in the Midlands. This year will be very different for the youngster. The Toffees will put more quality around him than West Brom did. As a result, he will almost certainly enjoy more service, and more opportunity to flourish.
But he will also be under much more pressure to succeed. Everyone will be watching the young Belgian this season, and that is a great position for the Chelsea evaluators to see him in. By this time next year Mourinho should know what the ceiling really is on Lukaku’s talent, and whether he can truly make it at the focal point of a Chelsea attack.
There are two ways you can look at Everton’s start to the season. The optimist sees that they have kept two clean sheets and are undefeated. The pessimist sees that they haven’t won a game despite playing relatively weak opposition, and they have scored only two goals in three league games, neither of which came from a striker.
Whichever way you look at it, one thing is still abundantly clear; the Toffees are screaming out for a goal scorer.
Arouna Kone is not a bad football player, but he isn’t good enough to lead the line. The Ivorian international is a decent change-of-pace option at best, and it looks like Martinez knows that. He brought Kone on for his debut as an 81st minute substitute in a 2–2 draw away at Norwich City.
Nikica Jelavic got off to a flying start at Goodison Park, scoring 11 goals in 16 games in his first season. However, the Croatian hasn’t been firing for well over a year now, and sports an underwhelming stat line of only 19 goals in 62 games for the Merseyside club. Clearly, he cannot be relied upon to lead the line.
Cue Lukaku. A proven goal scorer at the top level with West Brom, Lukaku can be the final piece to the puzzle for Everton; the focal point to an attack which could see the Toffees fighting alongside Merseyside rivals Liverpool again for a European place. Lukaku should fit perfectly into Everton’s single striker system, feeding off service from Ross Barkley and Kevin Mirallas, as well as quality wide service from full-backs Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines.
Martinez has seemingly just got his season back on track with a fantastic move on the final day of the transfer window. He, and Everton, should be excited about adding Lukaku to a side already full of attacking quality behind him.
The single most important and dominant thought in Lukaku’s head at the moment is that it is a world cup year. The young striker admitted as much this week, telling The Mirror newspaper:
“For my development and with the World Cup coming up at the end of the season, I cannot afford to stay on the bench. At Everton, I can continue my progress in a club that likes to play beautiful football.”
Belgium line up with only one solitary striker. Realistically, that space is going to be fought for between two men; Lukaku and Aston Villa’s prolific forward Christian Benteke.
Lukaku has his work cut out for him. Benteke is the focus of the Villa side and has gotten off to a flying start with four goals in four appearances. And with Fernando Torres and Demba Ba joined this summer by Eto’o, who are all jostling for places up front at Chelsea, Lukaku would likely not get anywhere near enough time on the field to compete with those numbers.
With the way Benteke has started and the lack of opportunity at Chelsea, it became imperative that Lukaku be playing consistent football elsewhere this year if he wants to be on the pitch in Rio. It was crucial that Lukaku put himself into a better position to catch the attention of the Belgian manager Marc Wilmots.
This move to Everton should be perfect for that. He needs to score goals to get noticed, and he will get plenty of opportunity to do that with the plethora of talent in Everton’s midfield. With their service and his talent, he should have every opportunity to play himself into Wilmots’ starting eleven just in time for the World Cup.