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Can Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku emulate “father figure” Drogba?

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Chelsea youngster Romelu Lukaku and legendary striker Didier Drogba are closer than many people would think.

Ye,s they often draw comparisons due to their playing style. But Lukaku has revealed that Drogba has helped mold his career on a daily basis for quite some time.

The Belgian forward spent the whole of last season on loan at West Bromwich Albion in the EPL, scoring 17 goals in 35 games and showing why he’s one of the most promising forwards in European soccer.

But can he translate that onto the biggest stage of all with his parent club Chelsea this season? With more than a little help from Drogba, it seems as though Lukaku is on the right path.

“Didier’s a legend. Now it’s up to me to do the same as he did,” said Lukaku. “And I want to achieve that as fast as possible.”

The 20-year-old, who Chelsea bought for $25 million when he was just 18, has big plans for this season and having a role model like Drogba will only aid his development with the Blues.

“He’s [Drogba] one of my best friends. He had the role of father figure to me when I was at Chelsea with him. After training we would talk for an hour or so. We have a good relationship and still talk every day. These days I tell him what I’m doing in training and he tells me if it is wrong or right.”

(MORE: Report, Mourinho reaches out to Drogba about potential Chelsea return)

So this season is massive for Lukaku. He proved himself in the English Premier League as the teenager’s goals and strong hold up play helped West Brom to their best-ever EPL finish of eighth. But now he’s returned to Chelsea, is the shadow of Drogba looming large and proving too much to handle?

Let’s not forget, Drogba was voted as Chelsea’s greatest player by the clubs fans and scored the winning penalty that sealed their first UEFA Champions League title.

Recently it was mooted that Drogba could return to Stamford Bridge. But it seems as though Lukaku will fill his void and the Belgian star went onto say that 35-year-old has been even harder on him recently and has given him even more advice to absorb as the new season approaches.

source: Reuters
Will Lukaku get his chance at Chelsea under Mourinho?

It has been a relatively quite summer at Chelsea since new manager José Mourinho arrived. The huge influx of attacking talents expected hasn’t really materialized. Yet.

But does it have to with Lukaku back on board?

Maybe this is why Chelsea aren’t pushing too hard to sign the likes Luis Suarez or Edinson Cavani? Why pay ridiculous amounts of money when you have a top young talent who’s already capable of hitting double figures in EPL goals. He is strong, quick and can finish from everywhere and should fight with Fernando Torres for the starting role. The comparisons with Drogba are well-founded and uncanny.

However, though Lukaku idolizes Drogba, the young striker is keen to carve his own legacy at Chelsea. “My dad called me Romelu Lukaku so I’m Romelu Lukaku. Yes, we have a similar style of play but I still see there are a few differences. I don’t think people will see me as another Didier Drogba but as Romelu Lukaku.”

Lukaku or the ‘new Drogba?’ Either way, Romelu is on the brink of achieving big things at Chelsea. But will Mourinho give him the chance to emulate his hero at Stamford Bridge?

He should.

Too early for Guardiola to concede Premier League title?

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Pep Guardiola suffered his worst-ever league defeat as a manager on Sunday as Manchester City were hammered 4-0 at Everton in the Premier League.

Post-game he was understandably glum.

[ MORE: Klopp slams United ]

Guardiola even appeared to concede the Premier League title, as the preseason favorites for the crown have now fallen 10 points behind leaders Chelsea with 17 games to go.

When asked if City’s title hopes were over after a fifth defeat of the season, the Spaniard’s answer was emphatic.

“Yes. Ten is a lot of points,” Guardiola said. “The second one [Tottenham] is three points. We have to see. I spoke to my players the last three weeks or a month, forget about the table. Focus on the next game and try to do our best to win the games and after that at the end of the season we are going to evaluate how our level and performance was — how was the coach, how was the players and after we are going to decide.”

It seems like Guardiola has already decided that the title race is over for City, but has he thrown in the towel too early?

With just five points separating second-place Tottenham with sixth-place Manchester United, it appears City’s primary focus will now be to finish in the top four as a mammoth battle ensues in the final third of the season.

Yet, we have seen some miraculous comebacks from teams in the past to win the title. These stats could give Pep hope.

In the 1997-98 season, Arsenal were 12 points behind United after 21 games of the season (United had played a game more) but roared back to win the PL by one point. And of course, City’s two PL crowns came courtesy of stunning late surges in the season with thanks to Sergio Aguero’s magic on the final day in 2011-12 and then Liverpool’s collapse in the closing weeks of 2013-14.

Pep, don’t lost the faith. It can be done.

However, if City lose to Tottenham next weekend and Chelsea extend their lead over Pep’s boys to 13 points by beating Hull City, it is curtains.

Such is the dominance of the big boys this season, City pretty much have to go unbeaten for the rest of the season to have a shot at winning the PL. Given their recent defensive displays that seems unlikely.

We all know Pep is an idealist when it comes to how he wants his team to play but now we are seeing he is a realist too.

Conte urges players “money is not everything” amid Costa rumors

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 04: Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea reacts during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane on January 4, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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While new reports are suggesting that China will have to curb its massive spending, Antonio Conte has urged his players that they don’t have to be tempted by the Chinese Super League.

[ MORE: United, Liverpool finish level after late Ibrahimovic equalizer ]

Chelsea currently sits atop the Premier League — seven points clear of Tottenham and Liverpool — but the club has recently been at the center of controversy as star striker Diego Costa has been linked with a move away from the club.

[ MORE: CSL set to limit number of foreign players per team ]

Costa missed his side’s 3-0 win over Leicester City on Saturday after several outlets reported a rift between the Spaniard and Conte.

The Chelsea manager told reporters following the match that Costa wasn’t available due to a back injury he suffered in training, but there has been continued speculation that the 28-year-old could head to China.

Conte has made it clear to his squad though that the quality of competition in England supersedes the money offered abroad.

“The money is not everything,” Conte told reporters. “When you play for a great team like Chelsea, you must be pleased.

“I think we are a great club and it is a great honour to play for Chelsea. For this reason I don’t see [China] as a threat for my players.

The Blues have lost a number of high-profile players over recent seasons to the high spending of Chinese football, including Brazilian duo Oscar and Ramires, as well as John Obi Mikel.

Oscar departed Chelsea this month to join Shanghai SIPG for a reported $72 million.

“I have to look at the past,” Conte said. “Oscar played with us, had a good offer from China and he went.

“But this league is really competitive and every player wants to come and play in this league.

“This league is the first in the world because of a lot of positive things, so I don’t think these offers from China are a threat for our league.”

Report: Ian Harkes expected to sign with DC United

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D.C. United didn’t have a top 10 selection in the MLS SuperDraft, but the club is likely to end up with one of the most talented collegiate players in the game.

[ MORE: Robinson, Ebobisse headline latest U.S. U-20 roster ]

According to the Washington Post, D.C. United is expected to sign Wake Forest attacker Ian Harkes to a multi-year contract.

[ MORE: Galaxy keeper Rowe replaces Frei with USMNT ]

Harkes, 21, came up through D.C.’s academy system before playing all four years for the Demon Deacons. The midfielder has gained significant notoriety over his college career, which concluded with Hermann Trophy honors following his senior senior.

As a former member of the D.C. academy, Harkes didn’t have to declare for the SuperDraft and is expected to sign a Homegrown contract with D.C. United in the coming days.

Harkes has also been considering his options abroad, which included second-division sides in England, where he was born. Ian is the son of former U.S. Men’s National Team star John Harkes, who played both in the United States and England over his professional career.

Bayern Munich signs Suele and Rudy from Hoffenheim

MILAN, ITALY - NOVEMBER 15:  Sebastian Rudy of Germany controls the ball during the International Friendly Match between Italy and Germany at Giuseppe Meazza Stadium on November 15, 2016 in Milan, .  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
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MUNICH (AP) German champion Bayern Munich has signed center half Niklas Suele and central midfielder Sebastian Rudy from Hoffenheim, with both players due to complete the season with their current club before joining on July 1.

[ MORE: Ibrahimovic rescues draw for United against Liverpool ]

Bayern said Sunday on its website that Rudy – who is out of contract in the summer – has signed a three-year deal until 2020 while Suele has agreed a five-year deal until June 2022.

[ MORE: Morata to Chelsea? Dybala staying put? ]

“Signing two Germany internationals is an investment in FC Bayern’s future,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. “Sebastian Rudy joins us on a free transfer. In the case of Niklas Suele we have reached a fair and serious agreement with Hoffenheim.”

The 26-year-old Rudy has played 177 league games for Hoffenheim since joining from Stuttgart in 2010, while the 21-year-old Suele is a homegrown talent and has made 90 league appearances with the club.

“In terms of it being a farewell I feel a little wistful,” Suele said on Bayern’s website, adding that the move gives him the chance of “maturing further with one of the best teams in the world.”

Suele’s signing appears to be linked to the form of long-serving Bayern defender Holger Badstuber, who has been sent on loan to Schalke to get more game time.

The long-serving center-back has struggled with injuries in recent years and is not in Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti’s plans, having played only three games this season, starting just once.