After an eye-popping season on loan at West Bromwich Albion where he scored 17 goals and notched 4 assists in 35 appearances, it was surprising to hear Romelu Lukaku talk a few weeks back about how he did not think he was ready for Chelsea.
“I am a realist,” the hulking striker said. “I still need to grow and for that I need to have time to play during the next season. Dortmund would be a good choice.”
The irony of the statement was not lost on those of us who are convinced of Lukaku’s incredible talent. ‘Yeah sure, Romelu, forget trying to crack the Chelsea line-up,’ we thought with a laugh and a sarcastic shake of the head, ‘best you go play somewhere you’ll be guaranteed minutes, like for the Champions League runners-up.’
How Lukaku did not realize that he was good enough to play – nay, to start – for Chelsea was comical and endearing yet concerning.
Did he think that his quality didn’t match that of the Blues? Did he think that Fernando Torres and Demba Ba were both miles better than him? Or, did he somehow believe that Jose Mourinho did not fancy him as a striker?
Lukaku must have known, however, that he was a bit special simply because he was convinced that he could play at Dortmund. (Which, by the way, he definitely could.) The German outfit – set to loose their star striker, Robert Lewandowski, to a summer transfer, likely to Bayern Munich – would be a fantastic place for Lukaku to continue his growth into one of the world’s most prolific strikers. So Lukaku wasn’t short on confidence.
It appeared he was simply short on . . . perspective. Ah yes. Perspective. Sometimes that gets lost when, like Romelu, you’re only 20 years old.
Thankfully, perspective is malleable. And this weekend Jose Mourinho finally sat down with Lukaku to change his view on things.
The result? The Belgian bulldozer is now determined to prove his worth at Chelsea next season.
‘Atta boy, Lukaku!,‘ we know-it-alls shout from the peanut gallery.
Following his discussion with Mourinho, Lukaku explained the predicament that led him to believe he may need to spend another season on loan.
It is the World Cup next year, and I need to be playing. But if I don’t get in the Chelsea team often enough, then I won’t deserve to be in the national squad. I am not afraid of that. I am determined to succeed with Chelsea next season. I want to prove myself.
The talk with Mourinho not only gave him the confidence that he will play enough to solidify his spot on Belgian’s national team in time for next summer’s World Cup but also that he could compete with Torres and Ba for the starting spot.
“Now I will go back to Stamford Bridge and try and play even more games than I did at West Brom,” Lukaku explained. “If I can score a few early on, it can turn into a really good season for me.”
Watch out, Premier League. Looks like Mourinho has found his Drogba 2.0.