As Transfer Deadline Day drew toward its always ridiculous conclusion, the news of Romelu Lukaku going on loan gained steam. As I read the news, I just kept thinking, “we’re sending him out again?”
When it became officially official (a tough standard in the world of BPL news) I knew I wanted write about the loan, but I wasn’t sure how I wanted to approach it. Like most Blues, I was frustrated that he was leaving again, having built up the hope that this was his year. But my head told me that he would get many more opportunities to work on his game with Everton than he would at Chelsea. So the question that we all need to ask is, “What is going to help Lukaku’s development most?” This seems obvious on its face, but until you dive deeper into numbers, the answer remains unclear.
In weighing all of the evidence, or more accurately, in projecting the next few months, I think everything hinges on one single date. That date, Thursday, June 12, 2014, the beginning of the World Cup in Brazil. Why that date? I think for Lukaku to be at his peak for Chelsea in 2014 and beyond, he must play the crucial minutes up top for this Belgian squad.
Quick side note on the, all but qualified, Belgian squad. They have all the makings of being Spain in 2007 and on the verge dominant run. They have a loaded roster with, what appears to be, the right mix of youth, players in their prime, and veterans with big match experience. From Courtois, to Kompany, Fellaini, Hazard, KDB, and Christian Benteke all likely call-ups, you may not see a better roster next summer. You can also expect me to place a wager on them during my annual March trip to Las Vegas.
Of the Belgian players I mentioned above, there is one name in particular that deserves attention, Benteke. A talented strike in his own right, we Blues must see him as more than just an opponent from Villa, but as the striker who could take so much of Lukaku’s ‘moments’ in Brazil. To ensure Lukaku gets the appropriate touches and opportunities, he must be viewed as Belgium’s clear first choice option when the tournament kicks off. With a long run during the tournament, not out of the question, Lukaku will begin the process of maturing as a player and he’ll be far more ready to handle Chelsea’s most important matches. It’s not just about the minutes, it is more about the high pressure situations he’ll encounter on the field that will help most.
My guess, Marc Wilmots won’t want to see his striker, for any reason, on the bench for stretches this season. All the training and coaching from our Special One isn’t going to replace game situations where he’s going to have to carry the weight of a team. At Everton, he’ll be expected to perform and he’ll carry just enough pressure to make those minutes meaningful. And, with the more BPL, FA Cup, and Capital One Cup minutes, chances, and goals, the more likely Wilmots will stick Lukaku in the kiln that will be Brazil 2014.
So, as much as I hate to admit it, the road Lukaku becoming the “Next Drogba” as he’s often been labelled most certainly has to go through Brazil… and to get there, I think Goodison Park is a necessary stop. Man, I’ll miss watching and cheering for him, but, I guess it’s for the best.
As always #KTBFFH
Check me out on Twitter: @MrBrendan23