Chelsea should give the Romelu Lukaku experiment another season

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 07: Romelu Lukaku celebrates with Antonio Ruediger of Chelsea after scoring their team's second goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on May 07, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 07: Romelu Lukaku celebrates with Antonio Ruediger of Chelsea after scoring their team's second goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Stamford Bridge on May 07, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images) /

Manchester City’s signing of Borussia Dortmund wunderkind Erling Haaland has the footballing world struggling to cope with the knowledge that Pep Guardiola’s men presumably have the league on lock for years to come. Haaland is now off the market, which means a number of Europe’s top clubs will have to begin searching elsewhere for a solution to their striker struggles. Despite its finishing woes throughout the campaign, Chelsea is not expected to join teams like Arsenal in the hunt for the next great No. 9.

The Blues are now entering the most pivotal summer in recent memory. Even though it feels like that same sentence is uttered every year in regards to Chelsea, it’s especially true this upcoming transfer window following the club’s imminent takeover. Todd Boehly and Co. will have a tough task on their hands if they want to rebuild this squad to Thomas Tuchel’s liking, never mind constructing a team that can compete with Manchester City. In the end though, the answer to the Blues’ goalscoring deficiencies could be hiding in plain sight within their ranks right now.

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Chelsea should give the Romelu Lukaku experiment at least another season

Romelu Lukaku’s ill-advised interview looked to have been the catalyst to a nightmare scenario in the eyes of the Chelsea faithful. The club record signing has struggled since revealing that he one day wants to return to Milan as he lost the support of both the fans and his manager. Lukaku’s spent a lot of the season on the sidelines—be it because of COVID-19, injuries or managerial preference—and it’s safe to say his second debut campaign has not gone according to plan.

The £97.5 million man has mustered up just 15 goals all season across his 42 appearances. It’s this underwhelming return that has led to rumors of his exit in the upcoming transfer window. While there is a very slim chance he departs Stamford Bridge this summer, it’d have seemed absurd last September that this would even be a topic of conversation. Lukaku has scored three goals in his last two Premier League games, which has led to fans beginning to sing his name in unison for the first time in months. This renewed faith seems to have flipped a switch within the world class striker as he looks more confident than ever in his latest Premier League outings.

Even if he wasn’t in the midst of what seems like a revival of form, the Blues would’ve been smart to commit to the Belgian for the near future. Lukaku should not depart anytime soon as it’d be best for all involved parties to keep him in west London for at least another season.

First and foremost, the near-£100 million move would look even more disastrous for Chelsea if he wasn’t even afforded a full preseason to work with the team—specifically Tuchel. It would be stereotypical of the Blues, who are known for just throwing absurd amounts of money at problems, rather than attempting to fix them. However, Chelsea is no longer on the receiving end of Roman Abramovich’s seemingly unlimited cashflow. The club now has to be prudent in the transfer market under new ownership.

On a similar note, the Blues have too many glaringly obvious needs within their squad to make the No. 9 position a priority once again. Chelsea will be losing Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and possibly even Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta in the coming months. Defensive reinforcements are paramount if the Blues want to succeed at the highest level next season. Jorginho and N’Golo Kante are also getting older, Saul isn’t sticking around next season and Ruben Loftus-Cheek isn’t starting caliber for a top European club any longer. It needs to be said that Chelsea will be looking to bring in a midfielder or two, as well.

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All of these needs trump the immediate desire to acquire a Lukaku replacement, especially considering the 28-year-old has shown flashes of brilliance this season. A reinvented midfield and a preseason could work wonders in getting Lukaku firing on all cylinders. After all, the Blues have done little to create goalscoring opportunities for their No. 9 this season. They may rank amongst the top five in big chances created, but they’re still a country mile behind the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City. Lukaku needs service and some new creative pieces around him could be the necessary remedy to the Belgian’s goalscoring woes.

Above all else, the sole reason that Chelsea should continue to put it’s faith in Lukaku is the fact he wants to remain at the club. Lukaku’s interview with Sky Sports Italia was idiotic, dumbfounding, misguided and unprofessional, along with any other synonym for stupid in the books. That said, he’s never done anything to suggest he doesn’t care deeply for the Blues. The former Chelsea teenage phenom wants to make things right with his beloved club the second time around, and it seems like he’s determined to do so, regardless of some speed bumps along the way.

There is something to be said for his passion and drive.

If nothing else, there are limited options on the market if the Blues did want to look elsewhere. Haaland is headed to Manchester, Dusan Vlahovic just moved to Juventus and Gabriel Jesus isn’t the answer. Robert Lewandowski’s future is in doubt at Bayern Munich; however, acquiring the 33-year-old would be seen as Chelsea kicking the can down the road. Tammy Abraham represents the most likely long-term Lukaku replacement, but his buyback clause doesn’t activate until the summer of 2023. If the Blues are contemplating an Abraham reunion in around 12 months, they would be silly to consider anything other than another year of Lukaku in the meantime.

Lukaku’s second debut season has been a disappointment for one reason or another. Fortunately for Chelsea, this doesn’t have to be the case for the years to come. Simply put, the Blues’ hierarchy needs to double down and commit to the Lukaku project for at least another season.

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What do you think the future holds for Lukaku? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!