One year to greatness, says Chelsea's Lukaku
Hotly tipped Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku set his sights sky-high Monday by saying he plans to be among the world's best players within a year after combining with new manager Jose Mourinho.
The 20-year-old Belgian, fresh from a storming loan season with West Bromwich Albion, said he believed Chelsea were building "something big" under the charismatic and highly successful Portuguese boss.
And the six foot four (1.93 metres) powerhouse said Mourinho was also pushing him to achieve his personal goals -- which include becoming one of the top players in the world by the age of 21.
"We're just here and we're building to something big," he told AFP during a coaching clinic for schoolchildren in Bangkok, first stop on Chelsea's pre-season tour.
"We have great players, we have great leaders, a lot of great quality in the team and we are here to build something great."
Lukaku added: "I always said by 21 I want to be one of the top players in the world. Now I'm 20 so now is really the year of preparation for me to be at that level. I expect a lot more than I did last year."
Lukaku's confidence comes from his 17 goals in 38 appearances last season for West Brom, including a hat-trick against eventual Premier League champions Manchester United.
His size, strength, pace and goals -- and dreadlocked hair -- mean he is regularly compared with former Chelsea ace Didier Drogba, who left after winning the Champions League in 2012 and is sometimes linked with a return.
He shrugged off the challenge of competing with Fernando Torres and Demba Ba for a starting place, and was unfazed by the potential arrival of Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, who is also linked with the London club.
"Those are things that happen when you play for a big club," he said, when asked about the top-level competition.
"It's up to the players themselves to deal with this, but still the bigger the player, the better the competition, the better the quality I think.
"But still it's up to you -- if you want to be in the team you have to show the manager in the game and in the training sessions all the time that you belong in the first team. So if there is competition, you have to fight for it."
Chelsea won back-to-back Premier League titles as well as two League Cups and the FA Cup during their first spell under Mourinho, who then found further success with Inter Milan and Real Madrid.
Lukaku said the hard work had begun already under Mourinho -- a statement borne out by team-mate Gary Cahill's feet, which were so badly blistered that he took part in the coaching clinic without trainers or socks.
"It's something that I expected from the first day on, that we would work very hard and have a high intensity in training," Lukaku said.
"Even though some players feel a bit of tiredness, we still keep going. It means we are getting there."
He added: "We have a manager that expects a lot of the players in training and in the games as well -- that's what I love and it pushes me towards another level that I want to achieve."
Mourinho is known for forming a close personal bond with his players and Lukaku, although making clear he had spoken in detail with the manager, loyally refused to divulge details.
"Discussions I have with the manager I'll keep private. Whatever we say is staying between him and me but we are here to work and to build something great," he said.
On Wednesday, Chelsea have the chance to secure minor bragging rights over Manchester United when they take on the Singha All-Star XI -- who shocked the Premier League champions 1-0 at the weekend.
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