[Transfer Targets] The Low-Down On: Romelu Lukaku
As we seemingly near the end of Didier Drogba’s reign on terror over Arsenal centre-backs, it is more clear now than ever that power and pace are the some of the attributes strikers who have succeed in the premier league have. One name on everybody’s lips from the seemingly small-time club Anderlecht is Romelu Lukaku, an 18-year-old Belgian forward who has already hit the back of the net for club and country as well as playing more games than his rival prodigies from other countries such as Jack Wilshere and Thiago Alcantara – it should be clear to see why Arsenal reportedly have an interest in the man who most believe is halfway through the door at Chelsea.
What’s his pedigree?: Having won the Belgian league as well as being top scorer in 2009-2010 while playing at 16 years old nobody can question Lukaku’s talent when you consider his 41% strike-rate in domestic football has been matched when he plays in European competition and for the Belgian first team. Just one of a current pool of very young Belgian talent along with Eden Hazard, he has been widely tipped as the next Didier Drogba due to the belief that his wide 6’3″ frame will suit the Premier League perfectly – Cristiano Ronaldo said this of him when Real Madrid were vying for his signing in January 2011:
“He is a fantastic player – he has to make his own choice but I’m sure that he will have a great career. At 17 when he is not playing in a major championship, he has managed to make himself known to many people like me.”
How’s the chemistry?: Lukaku is a French speaker as well as being Thomas Vermaelen’s international team-mate which may be an advantage in negotiations; Lukaku’s intelligence may attract Wenger. Arsenal will have real depth with Lukaku, Van Persie, Chamakh, Vela and Bendtner (unless he leaves) in attack which could lead to more traditional 4-4-2 and 4-1-2-1-2 formations being deployed in cup matches to accommodate everyone – especially since we may lose Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas which would thin out the midfield. However, Lukaku has only excelled in a 4-2-3-1 formation before.
Do we have a chance?: Due to the decline of Drogba as well as his similarities to Lukaku, Chelsea have been widely reported to be the leading contenders for his signature with Anderlecht confirming negotiations are current. However, the major stumbling block may be the price with the player having 4 years left on his contract and nothing less than £18 million being likely to be enough as the club are happy to keep him. The Sun revealed that Arsenal had made a £14 million bid for the player and we have the major advantage in this transfer in terms of Chelsea’s transfer policy – i.e. while they can easily outbid us, Abramovich only sanctions big money signings for players he knows.
Likely bid: £14 million. Probability: 5/10, Chelsea negotiating and our current bid is too low.