In the midst of a manic but ultimately disappointing transfer window – aren’t they all? – Everton completed one of the summer’s smartest pieces of business when they signed Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea.
In so doing, more than a few eyebrows were raised. Not least because Arsenal (among others) had made enquiries earlier in the day to take another Chelsea striker – Demba Ba – temporarily off their hands.
I can’t be the only one who believes Lukaku is a far better player than the former Newcastle and West Ham man. And yet the Belgian was the one to leave – having previously stated that this was the season he finally intended to make the breakthrough at Stamford Bridge.
And he should have, because last season there was no doubt he was Chelsea’s best striker…and he wasn’t even playing for them!
At West Bromwich Albion he didn’t only score 17 goals in 35 appearances (just 20 of which were starts). He also terrorised defences week after week, demonstrating confidence, talent and terrifying physicality, and if that wasn’t enough, he did it as a teenager.
I think it is often forgotten given his build and his ability, but the Lukaku who arrived at The Hawthorns was just 19-years-old. And he didn’t turn 20 until the final week of the season.
With most players his age, consecutive loan moves would not be a bad thing. But Lukaku is different, and I fully expected him to have an outstanding campaign for Jose Mourinho’s side.
Instead, he will be the goal-scorer Everton have been crying out for, perhaps punished for a missed penalty in the Super Cup final, or perhaps deemed surplus to requirements in the wake of Samuel Eto’o’s arrival.
A quick glance at the stats will show you that Fernando Torres scored eight league goals last season and Ba scored just two. In 28 games for Anzhi Makhachkala, Eto’o scored 16 times.
And while stats only tell part of the story, the simple fact is Lukaku deserved his shot at the Chelsea first-team this season when you compare his figures with the men who remained.
I may be in the minority thinking he is Chelsea’s best striker. And I am well aware that competing at the highest level requires the right mentality as well as the ability to find the net. But as he begins another season away from the club who once invested so heavily in him, Lukaku would be forgiven for wondering what he has to do to be given a chance.
Young he may be, but he is also exceptional.
Would Chelsea fans have preferred to see Lukaku remain at Stamford Bridge, and are you at risk of losing him in the future?
image: © wshjackson