LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Tim Howard of Everton dives to block the attempt on goal of Romelu Lukaku of Chelsea during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park on February 11, 2012 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Turns out that Romelu Lukaku would have liked to play more football this year. What a huge surprise, what with him being an 18-year-old footballer and all. ESPN Soccernet (and presumably everyone else out there) have some quotes to that effect. Exciting!
I need to play more games. It has not been as I imagined at Chelsea. Both Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo have stuck with experienced players. I haven't always agreed with their decisions, but as a player you have to accept the decisions of the coach. I don't have any regrets about joining Chelsea. I've learned a lot.
Let's wait and see who is appointed Chelsea manager, but as it stands I'll be going out on loan. Playing games is the most important thing for my career right now and for that reason it's better to look at other places. I leave all options open. I know that I am capable of playing for a top club in Europe, but perhaps it is better that I take one step backwards now so I can then take two forwards. My aim is to gain experience and then return to Chelsea. I need to put myself back in the picture so I can play with the Red Devils (Belgian national team).
Although Lukaku's had a strong season with the reserves, he hasn't shown that much in first-team football this year (and what he has shown has been his weaknesses as much as his strengths - what on earth is up with his vertical leap?), and I'm of the opinion that he really needs a loan. Lukaku's never really be impressive on national duty, and the highest level of competitive football he's played is with Anderlecht.
There's a major gap between the Jupiler League and first-team football with Chelsea, and I'd like to see him get some time for a Premier League team this year. It won't be us, but there are plenty of sides that could use a regular striker, especially one as good as Lukaku thinks he is. Personally, I think the plan all along was to loan him out this year, but playing him against Norwich City meant we weren't able to do that, and the club didn't realise what the exact rules were until it was too late.
It's been a lost year as far as Lukaku's concerned, but he's young enough that it shouldn't matter too much. Let's get him somewhere where he can thrive next season and then we can see exactly what we have on our hands.
PS: Before anyone comments about an £18M striker that we don't even play, I'm pretty sure that a very large chunk of that money is based on appearance bonuses with the first team. So chill.