After a tremendous season on loan at West Brom and scoring 17 Premier League goals in the process, Chelsea fans were purring at the prospect of Romelu Lukaku leading the strike force at Stamford Bridge this season.
But after the signing of Samuel Eto’o and the failed loan move of Demba Ba, the Belgian was shipped out on loan again, this time to Merseyside with Everton. And after a scintillating performance on Monday Night Football against Newcastle in which he bagged two goals and an assist for Ross Barkley, many were left wondering why Jose Mourinho had allowed him to leave – with some even mocking the Special One.
However, last night’s performance is a clear indication of why Lukaku should spend this season on loan, and why Mourinho was right to send him.
Following the signing of Eto’o, Chelsea were left with four strikers. That meant four strikers to fill, more often than not, one position. Realistically, even if Lukaku was chosen as first choice striker, he was never going to have another full season playing almost every game. There are big names in the Chelsea strike force, especially Torres and Eto’o. And Mourinho couldn’t risk alienating them or Demba Ba in case they were needed due to injury or suspension later in the season.
So which is more beneficial for Lukaku and Chelsea? Having a young striker who needs games continuing his development, or having a young striker who needs games spending half the time on the bench?
In the summer, I think Chelsea will look to sell Demba Ba. And if he’s given a contract extension, Eto’o will be at an age where he knows he won’t be able to fight to be first choice. That leaves Lukaku in a much better position to come back, having had two full seasons in the Premier League, and fight with Fernando Torres for that one place on the team sheet.