How this affects Demba Ba’s day remains to be seen, though if Sky Sports is correct, Lukaku has other things on his mind. His own future, apparently, is his primary concern, and with no evidence he’ll get enough starts under José Mourinho (he’s yet to be in an XI through four games), the Belgian international is on the move. At his request (per Sky’s report), Lukaku has been loaned back to West Bromwich Albion, with whom he spent the 2012-13 season.
A loan move has been rumored all day, though it was Everton thought to be leading the chase to secure the 20-year-old. As the day played out, West Brom was said to be making one last pitch to Chelsea for a played they’d tried to re-acquire all summer. Ultimately, the player’s voice appears to have been the deciding factor, with Steve Clarke set to welcome back one of the most important factors in last year’s success.
For player and destination club, it’s a best case scenario. Rather than waiting around Chelsea to see if Mourinho will take a shine to him (which the not-so-false nine experiment suggests may take a while), Lukaku goes to a place where he should get a few starts. And given West Brom’s lack of depth at striker, Lukaku’s role may expand from the super sub usage that led to 17 goals last season. If he’s hoping to make Beligium’s potential World Cup squad, this is the safe move.
For Chelsea, it’s a bit baffling, particularly if they end up loaning out Ba. Between this and the Juan Mata-to-PSG speculation, you can’t help but wonder what José Mourinho’s seeing (or not seeing) in these players. Is Lukaku not good enough to warrant consideration in the striker rotation, despite the lack of an obvious front runner? And is Juan Mata really not the player who played so brilliantly for Chelsea over the last two seasons? Perhaps they don’t fit the system(s) Mourinho wants to instill, but at some point, shouldn’t the system account for these types of talents?
If Chelsea really is going to use Andre Schurrle and potentially Eden Hazard as a lead attacker, then they may not need more than Fernando Torres as a true number nine. And perhaps Mourinho is thinking the club can make it through December and reassess their needs, but there’s no need to keep Ba and Lukaku around if they’re not going to be used?
Regardless, the striker battle at Stamford Bridge appears to be clearing up, with the incumbent Torres possibly the last one standing (this year).