It seems as if Chelsea has found the solution to its goalscoring problems. It is not Erling Haaland, nor is it Robert Lewandowski, nor is it Harry Kane. The man trusted with the goalscoring responsibility for the Blues is Romelu Lukaku. According to Fabrizio Romano and The Athletic, Lukaku will be returning to the club that bought him from Anderlecht in 2011. The Blues turned around and sold him just three years later to Everton. Since leaving Chelsea, Lukaku has had spells at Goodison Park and with Manchester United and Inter Milan. Lukaku’s talent was undeniable during his time in England, but he was often criticised for his inconsistency.
The Antwerp native moved to Milan in 2019 to play under Antonio Conte. From his time there, it looks like the 28-year-old has finally taken the steps towards stardom we always thought he was capable of. Thanks to his hard work and the work of his Italian manager, Lukaku was able to propel Inter to its first league title since 2010, this past season. During this title-winning season, Lukaku also won the Serie A MVP award ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, indicating how outstanding he was for the Nerazzurri.
What does this mean for Chelsea though?
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How has Lukaku improved?
Lukaku has always had great instincts in front of goal. He has always had the athletic and physical prowess to outmuscle or outpace any defender in his sight. The truth is if you were building a striker, those not building Erling Haaland, would be building Lukaku. However, as previously mentioned, Lukaku lacked the consistency to be recognised as one of the best. It felt that, for all the talent he had been blessed with, his game was not as refined as it should have been.
Step in Conte.
Conte had always been a big fan of Lukaku. So much so that he had wanted Chelsea to buy him in 2017 when he was the manager. Conte challenged Lukaku in ways he had not been challenged before. One of the first things the Italian manager helped with was Lukaku’s fitness, often pushing him hard in training, and Lukaku obliged by changing his diet. In addition to that, Conte helped him become an all-around striker. In addition to the 24 goals he scored last season, he also created a further 11 for his teammates—the second most in Serie A.
Along with that, Lukaku is a much more refined as a player now. During his time in England, he was often maligned for his poor first touch. Based on what we see now, he has no such problems.
The Belgian picks up intelligent positions and makes a lot of adept runs into and around the box. Lukaku has added so much to his game since his Premier League days that he no longer relies heavily on outmuscling his defenders, but rather his tactical awareness and football IQ have improved, allowing him to be one step ahead of his defenders.
What has been said about Lukaku?
There has been nothing short of praise for Lukaku since he made the switch to Inter. Former Inter player and Chile legend Ivan Zamorano said that “only Haaland and Lewandowski are on Lukaku’s level.” Jurgen Klinsmann also reportedly praised Lukaku’s selflessness. Karl Heinz Rummenigge, former CEO of Bayern Munich, is quoted as calling Lukaku ‘a man reborn’ at Inter. He believed that his technical skills had evolved from his time at Manchester United.
This is an indication that Lukaku’s improvement as a footballer is so clear that it has elevated his status and reputation in not only the eyes of fans, but also ex-professionals. Lukaku’s improvement as a footballer is one that has propelled him into the upper echelon of strikers in the world currently. The prospect of a link-up with Thomas Tuchel is one Chelsea fans should be excited about.
What does this mean for Chelsea?
Above all other attributes that Lukaku has improved on over the years, his greatest asset to the west London club will be his goal-scoring ability. Since joining Inter, Lukaku has scored 81 goals for club and country. He has done this in just 112 games. For a team that struggled to score last season and was guilty of missing a lot of chances, Lukaku is exactly what Chelsea needs.
The west London Club in last year’s Premier League season had the second highest xG only behind Manchester City. However, in terms of converting its xG, Chelsea was bottom. This meant that the discrepancy between the Blues’ expected goals and their actual number of goals was because of missed big chances.
Jorginho was Chelsea’s top goalscorer in the Premier League last year with seven goals, all from the penalty spot. Despite the success of winning the Champions League, Tuchel will know that that cannot be the case again this upcoming year. If the Blues are going to get to where they want to be, there is a consensus that they have needed a goalscoring striker for quite some time. With Timo Werner not proving to be the goalscorer many expected and Tammy Abraham reportedly on his way out, Lukaku could be the one to fire the club to glory for the next couple of years.
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