Looks like Romelu Lukaku will be playing at Chelsea this season after claiming that “at the moment” he would not consider a loan move.
Lukaku, signed by Chelsea from Belgian side Anderlecht in August 2011, spent the 2012-13 Premier League season at West Bromwich Albion. It was at The Hawthorns where the Belgian striker developed into one of the Premier League’s most dominant strikers, scoring 17 goals and notching 4 assists in 35 contests.
Despite the prolific form, question marks have surrounded Lukaku’s chances of leading the line at Stamford Bridge. Some feel the 20 year old would be better served by another year of development at a mid-range club where Lukaku can be the focal point of the attack. Others believe he’s ready to assume that very role for Chelsea right now.
Following his landmark season, Lukaku spoke modestly of his potential to play for Chelsea this coming August. “I am a realist,” he said. “I still need to grow and for that I need to have time to play during the next season.”
A few weeks later, he upped his confidence, noting he was “determined to succeed with Chelsea next season” and that he “want[ed] to prove [him]self.”
And now, by revealing that he won’t consider a loan move in the upcoming season, Lukaku has taken the next step in securing the striker role at Chelsea. It’s a role that he recently discussed with Blues manager Jose Mourinho.
“Yeah we spoke and I want to keep it private because when you have confidential talks with the manager, it has to stay between you and him,” Lukaku told Sky Sports News. “We had a good talk and now it’s up to me.”
For now, Lukaku’s competition up top consists of Fernando Torres and Demba Ba. And while many believe the Belgian striker deserves the nod ahead of both Torres and Ba, things could get quite complicated if Mourinho decides to act on the transfer speculation linking the Blue in a move for Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney.
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]
However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.
Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.
They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.
The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.
Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.
[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]
Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.
The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.
[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]
Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0
Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.
[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]
Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw
Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.
All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:
[ Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]
[ Click here for the RSS feed ]
LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.
[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]
Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.
Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.
Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.