The early days at Stamford Bridge

 

In August 2011, Lukaku joined Premier League club, Chelsea, for a fee reported to be around €12 million (£10 million), rising to €20 million (£17 million) in add-ons. Lukaku was given the number 18 shirt and signed a five-year contract.

Before that, When Lukaku turned 16 on May 13, 2009; he signed a professional contract with Anderlecht lasting until 2012.

Eleven days later, he made his Belgian First Division eleven days later in the Championship play-off match against Standard Liege as a 69th-minute substitute for defender Victor Bernardez.

Anderlecht lost the match.

Lukaku became a regular member of Anderlecht’s first team during the 2009–10 season, scoring his first goal at senior level against Zulte Waregem in the 89th minute after coming on as a substitute for Kanu.

“After scoring I dived into a sea of happiness,” he told Berend Scholten from UEFA.com.

“You think you are flying and can take on the whole world.”

He ended the season as the top goal-scorer in the Pro League with 15 goals as Anderlecht won its 30th Belgian title.

He also scored four goals during the club’s run to the last 16 in the UEFA Europa League 2009-10. During the 2010–11 season, Lukaku scored 20 goals in all competitions, but Anderlecht failed to retain their league title despite finishing top of the table during the regular season.

Anyhow, the scouts at Stamford Bridge were tracking the rise of the new talents in Belgium like Lukaku, Eden Hazard, and Kevin de Bryune, and ultimately, they went for goal-hungry Lukaku.

Lukaku made his debut at Stamford Bridge in a victory over Norwich City in the 83rd minute, coming on as a substitute for Fernando Torres.

Lukaku made his first start for Chelsea in the League Cup against Fulham.

Chelsea went on to win the match on penalties.

He spent the majority of the season playing for the reserves and started his first Premier League match in May 2012, against Blackburn Rovers, and turned in a man-of-the-match performance, providing an assist for John Terry’s opener.

However, Lukaku stressed that he was disappointed with his involvement at the end of his debut season, revealing that, after his side’s UEFA Champions League win in the final in 2012 against Bayern Munich, he refused to hold the trophy, explaining, “It wasn’t me, but my team that won.”

Move to West Brom

After speculation linking Lukaku to a loan move to Fulham, in August 2012, he joined West Bromwich Albion on a season-long loan deal. He scored his first league goal eight days later, coming on as a substitute in the 77th minute in a victory over Liverpool and he started to flourish even though n the face of claims he wanted to stay with West Brom for another year, Lukaku confirmed to the press he still wished to become a legend at Stamford Bridge.

Despite being loaned out by the club, Lukaku outscored all of his Chelsea teammates in the Premier League that season, being the sixth-highest goal scorer of the 2012–13 season with 17 goals.

Lukaku played two Premier League matches for Chelsea at the beginning of the 2013–14 season. He also came on as a substitute in the 2013 UEFA Super Cup, ultimately missing the deciding penalty in the shootout as Manuel Neuer saved his shot and Chelsea lost to Bayern Munich.

On the final day of the summer 2013 transfer window, Lukaku joined Everton on a season-long loan.

Arrival at Goodison Park

In January 2014, Lukaku was named by The Guardian as one of the ten most promising young players in Europe, but later in the month was taken off on a stretcher with ankle ligament damage after Gareth Barry slipped and slid into the striker as he attempted to block Steven Gerrard’s opening goal in the Merseyside derby against Liverpool.

But the strong lad returned and found the net 15 times in 31 league matches to help Everton to fifth place with a club record of 72 Premier League points and 17th league goal of the 2015-16 season, a Premier League-era record for Everton – it also meant Lukaku had equaled his previous best goal return in a league season, set during his loan spell at West Brom in the 2012–13 season.

Meanwhile, in the 2014-15 season, Lukaku signed a five-year deal with Everton in July 2014 for a club-record fee of £28 million, and he was assigned the number 10 shirt.

He scored his first goal as a permanent player on 13 September, against his former club West Brom. Lukaku did not celebrate the goal and was applauded by the West Brom fans for his sign of respect.

In February 2015, Lukaku scored his first Everton hat-trick against BSC Young Boys in the UEFA Europa League last 32; he struck with a header, a right-foot shot, and a left-foot shot.

He added another two goals in a 3–1 win in the second leg a week later.

With eight goals, he was the tournament’s joint-highest scorer that season, alongside Alan of Red Bull Salzburg.

In the 2016-17 season, Lukaku was the first Everton player since Bob Latchford to score 25 goals in two consecutive seasons in all competitions, and the first player since the legendary Dixie Dean to score in nine consecutive matches at Goodison Park. Lukaku was named in the PFA Team of the Year for the first time.

He was also included in the six-player shortlists for the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year awards.

 Time for the experience at Old Trafford

Lukaku joined Manchester United on July 10, 2017, signing a five-year contract with the option of a further year. Although the fee was officially undisclosed, it was reported to be worth an initial £75 million, plus £15 million in add-ons.

Thus, he became a teammate with his French-speaking close friend Paul Pogba.

Lukaku’s signing came a day after former Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney left the club to return to Everton, Rooney’s boyhood club.

Ahead of the 2017–18 season, Lukaku asked the permission of Zlatan Ibrahimović if he could take over the number 9 shirt from him.

Lukaku was confirmed to have been given the number.

Meanwhile, in Russia, Lukaku Belgium had an outstanding World Cup in 2018, where he was a devastating force and his display against Brazil at Kazan is still talked about a lot by many.

The expectations were very high regarding Lukaku at Old Trafford but for United, Jose Mourinho, and others, the going was never easy.

Still, he scored his 200th goal for club and country on 13 March in a 2–1 away defeat to Sevilla that eliminated Manchester United from the Champions League in the round of 16.

On March 31, 2018, Lukaku scored to open a 2–0 home win over Swansea. It was his 100th Premier League goal in his 216th game and made him the fifth youngest of the 28 players to reach the tally.

In the 2018-19 season, Lukaku witnessed the sacking of Mourinho, and former United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær was appointed, who left Lukaku out of the squad entirely for his first two games in charge against Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town.

Lukaku made substitute appearances in United’s next two games against Bournemouth and Newcastle United, scoring in both matches within two minutes of coming on. He then played the full 90 minutes of the FA Cup third-round tie against Reading, scoring the second goal in a 2–0 win.

However, Solskjær continued to prefer to start Marcus Rashford upfront and Lukaku started just five of the next nine games, playing the full 90 minutes in just two and failing to score in any of them. His goalscoring form returned for the next three games, as he scored braces against each of Crystal Palace, Southampton, and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG).

The goals against PSG were part of a 3–1 win that saw United through to the Champions League quarter-finals on the away goals rule, the first time any team had progressed after losing at home in the first leg by two goals or more.

However, United were eliminated by Barcelona in the quarterfinals 4–0 on aggregate.

Lukaku joined Inter in the following season.

Lukaku scored 87 goals in 166 games for Everton between 2014 and 2017 and found the net 42 times in 96 appearances during his two years at Manchester United before signing for Inter in 2019.

Back to Stamford Bridge

According to Sky Sports, “Chelsea have agreed in principle a club-record deal worth £97.5m (€115m) to re-sign striker Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan. The paperwork is now with club lawyers and once that is formalized, Lukaku will undergo a medical and sign a five-year contract.”

“Inter have previously rejected two offers from Chelsea for the Belgium international, the second of which was worth £85m (€100m) plus left-back Marcos Alonso.”

Under Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea have been a revolution but they have always struggled for goals since the departure of Diego Costa.

In Inter, Lukakau was at his brutal best and he could know nothing but scoring goals only that helped Inter earn glory.

In the 2019-20 season, Lukaku managed to equal Ronaldo’s record in the 1997–98 season, by scoring 34 goals in all competitions and in the following season, 16 goals for the season and equalling Cristiano Ronaldo as the league’s top scorer. Lukaku’s second goal against Lazio in February 2021, was also the 300th of his professional career.

Inter won the 2020–21 Serie A for the first time since the 2009–10 season.

Lukaku finished the season 2020–21 with 24 league goals, 11 assists making him the highest scorer on the title-winning team and the second-highest scorer in the league, behind Cristiano Ronaldo.

How can Tuchel and Chelsea benefit?

A large and physically powerful striker, with an eye for goal, Lukaku has been known to use his physicality to get around defenders.

However, despite his size, strength, physical build, and ability to hold-up play with his back to goal, his favoured role is not as a target-man in the center, but as an out-and-out striker or poacher; due to his tactical versatility, he is also capable of playing as a winger.

A well-rounded forward, who is also strong in the air, beyond his physical qualities and goal-scoring ability, he possesses pace, athleticism, awareness, good link-up play, technical attributes, and vision, as well as an ability to get into good attacking positions or create space for teammates with his intelligent runs off the ball.

Although he was once criticized by pundits for his limited defensive contribution, he has since been praised by his managers for his work rate off the ball. However, despite his ability, he has also come into criticism in the media at times over his movement, first touch, finishing, and overall consistency.

Antonio Conte’s Inter were brilliant on the counter-attack and Lukaku was instrumental in those breakaways. No team in Europe’s five major leagues came close to having as many fast breaks as they did. No team scored from as many of them either.

Out of possession, he would drop deeper than Martinez, the dynamic Argentine leading the press. That left Lukaku well placed to link the play when Inter regained the ball and it is easy to envisage the striker playing a similar role for Chelsea alongside Timo Werner.

In Werner and Christian Pulisic, Tuchel has quality wide forwards. In Kai Havertz and Mason Mount, he has midfield runners who can go beyond the striker. Lukaku complements them. He can feed off that service and he can provide opportunities for others too.

Chelsea were one of only two top-half teams in the Premier League to have a higher expected goals total than their actual goal tally, but they were by far the worst finishers of all their rivals, with Werner shouldering much of the blame for that.

That is why Lukaku is preferred by Chelsea.

Tuchel is planning to shake things up at Stamford Bridge and at present, he would not get a better customer than Lukaku who would not guarantee him goals but important assists as well.

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Note: Information gathered from Sky Sports and Wikipedia

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