Chelsea Loan Watch: Romelu Lukaku Showing He'll Be Ready for the Big Stage Soon

Hemant Dua@hemant_duaCorrespondent IISeptember 26, 2012

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 22:  Romelu Lukaku of West Bromwich Albion celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Reading at The Hawthorns on September 22, 2012 in West Bromwich, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

A 6'3" muscle man. The next big thing in Belgian football. The heir apparent to Didier Drogba.

A lot was said about the physically intimidating teenager Romelu Lukaku, when he arrived in London to put pen to paper on a five-year contract with Chelsea Football Club.

He had made a name for himself at RSC Anderlecht, having put together some eye catching performances in the Jupiler Pro League, and when the club he supported as a boy came knocking on his door, Romelu was only too happy to jump ship.

After one season with the Blues, though, there was precious little that the Belgian sensation had done to make a mark on English football. In retrospect, one can hardly blame him.

When you have the likes of Drogba, Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge ahead of you in the pecking order, opportunities are bound to be scarce, especially when you're at a club annually contesting for top honors.

A much talked-about prodigy, Lukaku had endured a miserable 12 months at the club of his dreams, and his career hung in limbo. In spite of Didier Drogba's departure, there was no guarantee Lukaku would get sufficient time on the field.

Along came Steve Clarke, the newly appointed gaffer at West Bromwich Albion, who snapped up Lukaku on a one-year loan deal.

A temporary move away from the settings at Stamford Bridge was inevitable, and the deal was sealed in time for him to make a cameo appearance in the Baggies' opening game thrashing of Liverpool.


Here was the chance to show he wasn't just another expensive Chelsea acquisition who had failed to cut it in English top flight.

Indeed, this was to be the turning point. Lukaku came on in the 68th minute, and was at hand to nod home the third goal for his new side, the final nail in the coffin; this one putting paid to Liverpool's hopes of salvaging even a point from the game.

A look at Lukaku's statistics from that fixture reveals some fascinating things. The FourFourTwo Stats Zone app was fairly handy here.

Having received the ball eight times in his 22 minutes on the pitch, Lukaku was able to fashion three chances for teammates, which is incredible.

He made an impression the following week against Tottenham Hotspurs, albeit without a goal or assist. His pace and physicality made him difficult to deal with, and his movement helped drag the two centre backs out of position.

In his brief time on the pitch, Lukaku was able to take on a few shots and keep the opposition defense occupied.

Moving on to analyzing his most recent performance, Romelu Lukaku earned his first start for the Baggies last Saturday against Reading. He lead the line with aplomb, and eventually scored the goal that settled the game, his second in four games for the club.

A big positive shines out. Lukaku has it in him to score decisive goals, like the aforementioned at the Hawthorns against the Royals.

I'd like to see him win more aerial duels, though. His height gives him an edge over defenders, and he must learn to make the best of it, but these nitty gritties will develop slowly with time.

Under the guidance of Clarke, who is a highly regarded figure from his days as a player and coach at Chelsea, the young man will now look to tie down a regular starting spot for West Brom, and possibly propel them higher up the league table.

No longer confined to oblivion, Lukaku, now 19, is enjoying life in the West Midlands, busy showing his mettle.

The uncanny resemblance with Didier Drogba remains, but what I like about Romelu's attitude is his determination to make a name for himself and gain recognition for being the unique player he is.

When the time is right, Romelu will be wearing the blue of Chelsea again, ready to step out of the shadow of the Ivorian legend he is persistently compared to. And when he does return, he will certainly be needed.


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