After 52 goals in 83 matches, two EPL titles, one EFL Cup and plenty of memorable moments, it seems that Diego Costa’s time at Chelsea has come to an end. The enigmatic Brazilian-born Spaniard has revealed that Antonio Conte, Chelsea’s Italian manager, sent him a text message to tell him his time with the English champions was up. A lot has been said about how better the parting of ways could have been handled, but at the end of the day, the inevitability of the breakup had been there all along.
As Costa’s legend is being consigned to the annals of the Pensioners’ history, another man who left Stamford Bridge as a boy some time ago is ready to come back and fulfil all the promise he showed at a young age at the London club. That man is Romelu Lukaku. See five reasons Chelsea fans should be excited about the big, burly Belgian’s return!
1. Romelu Lukaku has never been short of confidence in his own ability, he’s been banging in goals for fun at the top level since the tender age of sixteen. He was the top scorer in the Belgian league in his first full season as a pro with Anderlecht as they won the title in 2009/10 and he also scored four times in Champions League qualifying. He had already scored 41 goals in 98 games for Anderlecht as an 18-year-old before Chelsea came calling in 2011.
2. The Belgian has fully matured in the EPL and is ready to take the next step and lead the Chelsea attack six years after he was brought in as a teenager. After spending two seasons on loan to West Brom and Everton and scoring a total of 33 league goals in 66 games for both teams, Everton forked out a club record £28m to have him permanently on their books and he duly delivered as he became the Toffees top scorer in the Premier League era and twice broke the record for goals scored by an Everton player in a Premier League season. Chelsea know they will be getting a proven goal scorer in the league with his capture.
3. Romelu Lukaku has outscored Diego Costa in the last two seasons and very importantly converted a greater proportion of his clear-cut chances and created opportunities for his team-mates more frequently. However, Antonio Conte is a stickler to hard work and likes to press teams from the front, if he wants to continue in that form with Lukaku, the Belgian will have to change his game as stats and optics have shown that he isn’t that kind of striker. Over 60 forwards made an interception last season and Lukaku wasn’t one of them and he also made only nine tackles last season. In fact, Romelu Lukaku has managed just one interception and 33 tackles over the past three years in the league, so Chelsea fans should not expect to see the big Belgian harrying opposition defenders.
4. He also isn’t the kind of striker that will run down the channels as his running numbers do not make for impressive reading. Among all the strikers to have played over a thousand minutes in the league last season, his average of 8.84km distance covered per game places him bottom of the list, while his 44.77 sprints per match put him forty-second out of forty-eight forwards. What you can expect from him is great positional play and awareness inside the box, so once the chances are created and presented to him, he is most certain to finish them off.
5. One of the most important things that Lukaku will be bringing to Chelsea when he joins them will not be able to be measured and that is a chip on his shoulder. The big Belgian has a burning desire to be a success at the London club and has said in the past that he wants to be a ‘legend at Chelsea’ which was one of the reasons he chose to leave and prove himself elsewhere, instead of languishing in the reserves or sitting on the bench at Stamford Bridge and that belief in himself has paid off as Chelsea are about to break the bank to get him back. Returning to the club will be a homecoming and he would surely want to have a huge party in London by painting the city with goals.