The papers are full of the Rooney rumours at the moment –and probably will be for a good month or so, yet. Out in the Far East however, another Chelsea striker is staking his claim to be Chelsea’s main man for the front line. Romelu Lukaku, the 20 year old Belgian powerhouse striker is taking full advantage of his playing opportunity as the club tour Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. Although only playing one half in each of the first two games, he already has two goals and an assist to his name.
Lukaku netted 17 times for West Bromwich Albion last season after Chelsea sent him out on loan following his £17million transfer in 2011. Although still a little raw, the striker is now beginbning to demonstrate that the potential he has shown can be delivered. Clearly, it can be argued that the scratch teams that Chelsea have been up against so far have hardly constituted opposition of a Premier League standard, but as the old saying goes: “You can only score against who you play against.” The Belgian’s pace and power has clearly impressed manager Jose Mourinho in the battle to lead Chelsea’s line. He was reported in a Daily Mirror on line article as saying “Lukaku had a fantastic manager last season. It’s up to the kid, but he’s open and intelligent to learn the kind of movement we want. Of course he can challenge Torres. The role he played was the right movement. We don’t want the striker just aiming between the central defenders, but making movements, sometimes between midfield or moving wide.”
Any powerful striker that leads the Chelsea line will inevitably draw comparisons with Didier Drogba, but Mourinho was wisely avoiding the that pitfall. When he was asked about similarities between the two, he replied: “We have to respect them both. The best way to do that is not compare Lukaku to a legend. Leave Didier where he is, at the top of Chelsea’s history, and leave Lukaku to work hard. The kid is good.”
As mentioned, it’s inevitable that unless or until any Rooney deal is completed, the speculation will run and run, occupying the back pages in claim and counterclaim. It may be however that the young Belgian striker will divert Blues’ fans minds from all the rumours with his displays on the park. Should any Rooney deal go through, with Chelsea scheduled to visit Old Trafford on 26th August, it’s unlikely any deal will be dine before that date. No-one wants a Rooney return to Manchester that quickly, so any deal will probably be in the closing days of the transfer window. In the meantime, Lukaku could well be strutting his stuff on the park and establishing himself as the number one striker at Stamford Bridge.