Advertisements

Why won’t Chelsea give Romelu Lukaku a chance?

Chelsea have started three different strikers in their first three games of the new campaign. Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Andre Schurrle have all failed to hit the back of the net – so, why are the Blues not giving Romelu Lukaku a chance?

The 20-year-old Belgian sensation had a flying season on loan at West Brom last term, scoring 17 Premier League goals in a middle of the table side. How many would he score if he was given a consistent run in the Chelsea team?

Romelu Lukaku

He is strong, can hold the ball up, is good in the air and has an eye for the onion basket. No wonder he is constantly compared to Didier Drogba – he has the potential to be just as good as the Chelsea legend.

Against United if Lukaku had played instead of Schurrle, he would have held the ball up and give the visitors an out ball. The threat of his pace in behind would have forced the United defence to drop deeper, allowing more space for Eden Hazard and Oscar.

Chelsea – forget signing Rooney or Eto’o – you have an awesome striker on your bench.

Advertisements

Chelsea or another loan? Where should Romelu Lukaku play next season?

Romelu Lukaku is one of the best young strikers in the world. His combination of pace, power, movement and brilliant finishing has drawn comparisons with a young Didier Drogba, although if anything, Lukaku is quicker. There is no doubt he has everything he needs to be world-class striker. Last season at West Brom he scored 17 goals and his goals per minutes rate was second only to Robin van Persie in the Premier League. He was also second only to van Persie in goal involvements, goals and assists, in the league. Better than Luis Suarez, better than Gareth Bale, better than Juan Mata. All of that whilst on loan at a West Brom side where he was pretty much the sole attacking threat and all at 19 years of age. He’s already done more in the Premier League than a similarly aged Wayne Rooney did before he got his £30m move to Manchester United. Chelsea have got a special talent on their hands, but what do they do with him next season?

According to this article in the Guardian Jose Mourinho is looking forwards to working with him in pre-season and is leaning towards keeping him at the club for next term. The problem is, this sits ill at ease with the swirl of rumours linking Chelsea to the likes of Edinson Cavani and Hulk, both repeated in the article. Right at this moment, Cavani is a better player than Lukaku, but that’s not to say he will be in a year or two. Cavani is as good as he is going to be, and he is world class, but Lukaku’s physical tools mean his ceiling is much higher. If they buy Cavani it will cost them £50m, which they then don’t have to spend on the defence. If they were buying Lukaku they’d have to pay about £30m given his proven output and sky-high potential. Cavani would certainly give them a better option this season, and possibly next, but Lukaku could be rampant for another decade or so. If they buy Cavani they are committed to him long term. Where would that leave Lukaku? As for Hulk, he’s not even vaguely in the same class as Lukaku. Considering Zenit paid £50m for him last summer he’s pretty much off the market unless the Russians take a huge loss. He’s not really a Mourinho type player either.

Romelu Lukaku

The problem for Chelsea is that they may well have to make a decision on Cavani before Mourinho has had enough time to fully appraise Lukaku with his own eyes. What happens if they delay on Cavani and some one like Man City or one of the Madrid sides move in and get him, and then Mourinho deems Lukaku not to be ready? They are then stuck with Torres and Ba again, both of whom are considerable downgrades on Cavani and certainly Lukaku in the long term.

This might mean that Chelsea sign Cavani out of fear, and that is not a way to properly conduct transfer business. If they sign Cavani they will have to let Lukaku go out on loan again. Another season on the bench will pretty much alienate Lukaku from Chelsea in future, but a season on loan at a club where can show his talents on the European stage could leave Mourinho with no choice but to play him in 2014/15. So where could he go?

The Guardian article suggests Borussia Dortmund and this would be a dream scenario for Lukaku. If they do, as expected, sell Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich they will have a big hole to fill. Lukaku being supplied by Marco Reus, Ilkay Gundogan and Kuba Błaszczykowski, possibly even Christian Eriksen, could be devastating. It would give him the opportunity to play in the Champions League, which is the ultimate proving ground for a young player. There is no reason why, if he can score 17 goals with the West Brom supply line, he can’t score 25-30 goals with the Borussia Dortmund supply line. If he does that, suddenly his ‘value’ is up in that £40-50m range and then Chelsea would have themselves another question to answer.

The best option for Chelsea is to roll with Lukaku this season. There isn’t enough difference in quality between any of their possible targets and the Belgian to justify not only the huge outlay but the fact that they will just be postponing any decision on Lukaku’s role with them in future. If he fails, at least they gave him a go. But, he’s got Mata, Hazard and Oscar feeding him. Chelsea should let them cause chaos with Lukaku.

Is Jose Mourinho the right man to turn Chelsea’s young stars into superstars?

To all intents and purposes Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea has been secured, and there are already questions being asked about the futures of David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic and Fernando Torres. What’s not being asked so much is what effect the appointment of Mourinho will have on Chelsea’s recent policy of stocking up on young talent. At Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, Mourinho has been much more comfortable working with experienced players, using their already high levels of talent to make and shape his teams. He doesn’t have a record of promoting young players from the youth departments of these clubs at all. He doesn’t have a good record of loaning players and then playing them when they have been improved. He has pretty much built his success on signing ready-made players.

The reason that this could sit incongruously with Chelsea’s recent transfer policy is that he will be overseeing a young first-team squad that has a fully stocked and successful youth squad and an assortment of potentially world-class players out on loan around the world. They have building towards the next couple of seasons for the last three years or so, they have a plan. Despite the circus of managerial changes at first-team level, behind the scenes the player recruitment and development policy has been exemplary. They have been preparing for this season and even more so 2014/15 when the likes of Lukaku, Chalobah, McEachran, Courtois and De Bruyne will be nicely polished up ready for action. Not to mention how good the already sublime Juan Mata and Eden Hazard will be by then and the continued improvements of Cesar Azpilicueta that could make him the starter for Spain at the World Cup.

So where does Jose Mourinho fit in to this policy? Is he really willing to give youth a chance? Can he make them better players than they are at the moment? When you hire Jose Mourinho you agree to buy him players. That’s what happened first time around, and that’s the rumour this time around. He doesn’t rate Torres or Ba, so the talk is of them trying to sign Edinson Cavani or Karim Benzema. They are both readymade, plug and play options. But how about Romelu Lukaku. He has the potential to be one the best in the world given his physical gifts, youth and proven output. If they spend £40-50m on a striker they are not signing him to sit on the bench behind Lukaku. Mourinho will certainly prefer the known package Petr Cech over Thibaut Courtois, who could also turn in to the best in his position.

Jose Mourinho

In his last stint at Chelsea no academy players made the breakthrough to first team level. Inter Milan’s top homegrown starlet, Mario Balotelli, was clashed with and sold on, as were a ream of other young Italians who are now starting around Serie A. Mourinho won the Champions League with a team that averaged over 30 years old. Three years later they finished ninth, having been hamstrung by a squad that got too old all at once. At Real Madrid the likes of Canales, Callejon and Morata showed a lot of promise but were not often utilised. The only young player who got significant game time was Rafael Varane but he broke in due to injury to Ricardo Carvalho and Pepe.

The other cross against Mourinho’s name is his supposed weakness in developing young first team players, taking them on to the next level. This criticism isn’t as fair as that he doesn’t blood young players but there is some credence to it. When he first arrived at Chelsea he improved the likes of Lampard, Terry, Cech and Robben plenty but since then his record is more erratic. Jon Obi-Mikel levelled out as did Salomon Kalou. At Real Mesut Ozil, Marcelo and Higuain haven’t really improved from the level they were at when he arrived. Is it something that he has lost his touch with? As he has become more entrenched in his ways he has found less time to develop players. This is a big concern with Mata, Hazard, Ramires and Azpilicueta. Will he be able to take them on to be amongst the best players in the world?

Mourinho will get Chelsea winning games and probably trophies but he has never played players from his youth teams and has recently struggled to improve players as individuals. He has improved the team concepts and winning mentality of Inter and Real but has left them with problems to deal with long term. Can he use Chelsea’s wealth of young resources this time around?

Chelsea’s returning starlets will form the nucleus of an exceptional team

With all the hysteria surrounding Chelsea this season it is easy to forget that they have the core of a young and potentially devastating team. Along with the likes of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Cesar Azpilicueta, who are already in the first team, they own some of Europe’s top young prospects who are thriving out on loan in various leagues.

So let’s take a look at the best of these starlets who will be coming home in the summer and what their future at the club could look like.

Thibaut Courtois

The Belgian goalkeeper is currently starring for Atletico Madrid in La Liga, and is one of the best goalkeeping prospect in the world. In his two seasons in Spain he has played 84 games, keeping 41 clean sheets, which is an incredibly high ratio. He is an unbelievable shot stopper and has total control of his box and defence.

Thibaut Courtois

I would personally argue that he is already better than Petr Cech and is only going to keep improving if he is given the opportunity to play more first-team football. There have been rumblings that he may just stay out in Spain for a couple more years but he is ready for Premier League action right away. Chelsea have leaked a lot of silly goals this year and Cech is not what he was a few years ago. In two years Courtois could well be considered the best in the world.

Romelu Lukaku

The Belgian striker is having a big season in the Premier League for West Brom. He has already scored 13 goals despite Steve Clarke’s bizarrely infrequent use of him. He is scoring at a rate of a goal every 106 minutes in a team where he isn’t surrounded by the likes of Hazard and Mata creating chances for him. Incredibly to look at him, he’s only 19. The comparison to Didier Drogba is not just because he plays for Chelsea but because he does play like Drogba when he first arrived in England.

Romelu Lukaku

His combination of pace and strength is ridiculous and his finishing is calm and composed. Look at his goal at Anfield where Daniel Agger bounced off him before he calmly slotted home. Chelsea have been criticised for loaning him out but it was the right decision. How much would a 19-year-old scoring in the Premier League at near enough a goal a game cost to buy? Something astronomical. But Chelsea will have him ready to lead the line for next year. He’ll be better than Demba Ba once settled in, and I won’t bother comparing him to Fernando Torres.

Kevin de Bruyne

The third Belgian, but probably the least known. However, he could well turn out to be the best of the bunch. The 21-year-old attacking midfielder combines express pace with trickery and goals. Think Hazard and you won’t go far wrong.

Kevin De Bruyne

In the Bundesliga at Werder Bremen this year he already has eight goals and six assists in a team where he is always going to be the main focus for opposition defences. Imagine the damage he could cause with Mata and Hazard distracting defences. He will be ready to play for the first team next year.

Nathaniel Chalobah

An Englishman for a change, 18-year- old deep-lying passer Chalobah is having an outstanding season in the Championship with Watford. With an almost frightening calmness on the ball and supreme balance and elegance, Chalobah glides around the midfield a bit like a Paul Scholes or Mousa Dembele, and has the full range of passing to match.

Nathaniel Chalobah

He has also started to pop up with more goals recently to add to his armoury. He isn’t quite ready for the Chelsea first team, but a year on loan in the Premier League would do the trick. Gianfranco Zola says he is the future of Chelsea’s midfield.

There are also the likes of defender Jeffrey Bruma and midfielders Josh McEachran and Lucas Piazon, who should all have a future in the first team picture with another season or two of football. Not forgetting Ryan Bertrand who seems to be being readied to take over at left back from Ashley Cole.

In a couple of years time they could have this; Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Bruma, Bertrand; Oscar, Chalobah; Hazard, Mata, de Bruyne; Lukaku.

The future is potentially very bright for Chelsea but it depends entirely on how they manage the situation. They need to have patience and faith in these youngsters and give them the opportunity they deserve. This would be best done by investing in and believing in a manager who has experience with such a project.

The ideal man to get would be Jurgen Klopp but a Michael Laudrup or even Jupp Heynckes would be good choices. If they do things properly and add a few other players elsewhere, then they could build a team to play the beautiful winning football that Roman Abramovich dreams of.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham: Each club’s perfect summer signing

With 10 games still to go in this season’s Premier League, some may argue it is too early for us to be commenting on future arrivals.  But this is football – half of what is written is hypothesis.

The truth is, every manager already has their summer wishlist, so here is a look at the one player each of the current top four should be seriously considering if they want to improve next season.

Manchester United – Mats Hummels

For years, fans and pundits alike have been calling for Sir Alex Ferguson to buy a creative midfielder.  But creativity and link-up play don’t seem to be a problem anymore. Not with the emergence of Shinji Kagawa, whose first season has been stop-start but who, at just 23, has all the attributes to be a silent superstar; and not with Nick Powell and Wilfried Zaha waiting in the wings.

Instead United should be looking for a long-term successor to Rio Ferdinand. And in Borussia Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels, they would be signing one of the best young defenders in Europe.

Mats Hummels

The 24-year-old has already made over 150 appearances for the reigning Bundesliga champions and is regularly linked with moves away from the club he is contracted to until 2017.

The fact is that when Ferdinand and latterly Nemanja Vidic leave Old Trafford, there are three ready-made replacements in Johnny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. And yet Hummels’ pace, strength and ability to read the game would seal a hole that has too often been gaping this season, and at its best has been temporarily boarded-up.

With Hummels forming a regular partnership with one of the above, that hole wouldn’t be big enough to get a ball through without a whole lot of effort. But it will take a big bid to get him.

Manchester City – James Rodriguez

The 20-year-old Columbian winger has been regularly linked with United, but it is City who are in most need of him. Currently at FC Porto, he would bring a new dimension to Roberto Mancini’s team, who too often this season have been lackadaisical and missing the energy and thrust of an out-and-out winger.

James Rodriguez

While unquestionably talented, the Blues’ forward line has lost some of its mojo since outscoring their city rivals last year, and for every intricate David Silva pass or surging run from Carlos Tevez, the addition of lightening pace would make them a terrifying prospect, not least because their defence has now been further fortified by the ever-improving Matija Nastasic.

A consistent goal-threat himself, Rodriguez also has an impressive assist-record and will be a defining capture for whoever ultimately signs him. As with so many players these days, there is talk of an over-inflated release clause (in this case more than £36 million). But as with so many over-inflated release causes, a bid £10 million shy of that could tempt the Portuguese club’s hand and pass the advantage back to City next season.

Tottenham Hotspur – Robert Lewandowksi

The Polish striker is the one player on this list certain to be pulling on a new shirt next season. With only a year left on his contract at Borussia Dortmund, there seems little chance of him signing a new one. And while his current club have produced their best poker face in declaring he will remain should an acceptable offer not arrive, that won’t happen. Reasonable bids will come, as top clubs both in England and abroad compete to sign a man who, quite simply, knows where the goal is.

Robert Lewandowski

With his only criteria likely to be regular football and another crack at the Champions League, a Daniel Levy bid is surely being readied. In fact the addition of Lewandowski could turn Tottenham into viable title challengers.

With new signings Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele excelling this season – and Gareth Bale coming of age – the one thing Spurs fans bemoan is the lack of a consistent goal threat. And while Leandro Damiao will again be linked this summer, Levy should put all his efforts into signing a player who will turn an impressive squad into true contenders, both in England and in Europe.

Chelsea – Romelu Lukaku

When Chelsea paid close to £20 million for the Belgian forward in the summer of 2011, he called the Blues his dream club. But since then he has hardly kicked a ball for them. Instead it is West Bromwich Albion reaping the benefits of a loan deal Lukaku has talked about extending. Quite simply, Chelsea can’t let that happen.

When your best striker is excelling for another club something is wrong. And while he may only be 19, he has shown in a series of outstanding displays for the Baggies that he is ready to be playing first-team football back in London.

Romelu Lukaku

With arguably the most creative midfield in the Premier League, Chelsea’s one problem is their lack of forward options. Fernando Torres was last seen circa 2010, and he is not coming back; while Demba Ba is still dining out on his outstanding debut season for Newcastle.

Whoever is in charge at Stamford Bridge next season, he will be looking for a player who is on the same creative wavelength as Juan Mata and Eden Hazard, a player who scores, creates and can put finishing touches to the patterns his midfield will only get better at creating.

Lukaku is already better than the two men Chelsea currently rely on for goals. If they haven’t yet realised that, they may lose him altogether.

%d bloggers like this: