Ray Wilkins thinks Romelu Lukaku must return to Chelsea but should he?

The former Chelsea assistant manager thinks that Lukaku should stay at Stamford Bridge, but would his career benefit from a move elsewhere?

Former Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins believes that Romelu Lukaku has to be kept at Stamford Bridge next season.

The powerful Belgian front-man has spent the last two seasons out on loan at West Bromwich Albion and Everton respectively and has gone on to impress for both clubs.

It has led to speculation about Lukaku’s future at Chelsea, with The Toffees reportedly interested in making his transfer a permanent one, but Wilkins insists he should be kept at Chelsea.

In an interview with TalkSPORT, he said: “He has to come back to Chelsea, in my opinion.

“He’s the closest thing you’ll see to Didier Drogba at such a young age.

“He sits at Everton having scored 18 goals in the Premier League. That will [replacing him] be a massive problem for Roberto Martinez, as West Brom found it when he left them.”

The thought is that Lukaku will be kept in and around the Chelsea squad next season, but Jose Mourinho does not trust him to be the main man up-front at such a tender age.

It leaves the question of whether Wilkins is actually correct in his assumption that Lukaku should return to Stamford Bridge.

Although the standard of player that he is alongside will improve, there must be doubts over whether it is best for his development.

If Diego Costa and Mario Mandzukic join The Blues this summer then the 21-year-old is likely to have his chances of first-team football limited and that will be hard to take for somebody who has proven he is a quality striker at Premier League level.

As such he needs to have a think about what is best for his development. Is it more important for someone of such tender years to go and play football – as Nemanja Matic did before being brought back to Chelsea – or is it better for him to learn alongside other world-class strikers?

It is surely something that the Belgian international, who is part of their World Cup squad for this summer, is thinking hard about and his future is likely to be uncertain for the entirety of the transfer-window.

Another loan move is a possibility, but there is likely to be many suitors for the front-man and he is starting to get to the age now where he needs to find a settled club.

Whatever happens, there is the sense that Mourinho needs to start putting more trust in his talented front-man or he could be risking losing one of the brightest talents in his position in the world.

Register for CHELSEA team updates

Register for EVERTON team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch