Drogba's protégé: Romelu Lukaku
Didier Drogba, the talisman of Chelsea’s road to European glory last season.
Powerful, fast and explosive, he was the ideal centre forward. In the summer of 2004 he moved from Marseille to South-West London for a staggering £24 million.
In 2004 the transfer fee was seen as ridiculous for an unproven player, 8 years later no one questions the price tag.
During his 8 years he picked up 3 Premier League medals, 4 FA Cup medals, 2 League Cup (COCUP) medals, 2 Community Shields and of course the holy grail, the Champions League.
He was the big game player for Chelsea; Wembley was his hunting ground, scoring 10 goals in 9 appearances at the stadium during his time at the club. His last kick of a ball in a Chelsea strip gave the fans what the club had longed for since the takeover in 2003.
However, Drogba departed from the club on a Bosman this summer leaving for Shanghai Shenhua in China, leaving many centre half’s in the premier league relieved.
Now, the question for the boys from the Bridge is, who can take that prestigious number 11 shirt from the Ivorian?
Chelsea are exploring the Market again, looking at big names such as Hulk, Cavani, Falcao and Lewandowski. Although, Chelsea may have already signed Drogba’s replacement last summer, Romelu Lukaku
6’4, powerful, fast and explosive centre forward from Belgium, many football fans – similar to Drogba – said that for an unproven striker, £18 million was too much.
An avid Chelsea fan, at the tender age of 18 years, Lukaku moved away from his family in Belgium and moved to the capital of England. He made his debut against Norwich under manager Andre Villas-Boas.
He may have even scored his first goal for the club in this fixture, had Mata had rolled it to him instead of scoring himself.
After this match, Romelu seemed to disappear into the reserves and the u18’s at Chelsea, apart from a few cameo appearances throughout the season, he struggled to make his name in the first team.
Was his first season a failure at the club? Many people would argue that this isn’t the case. Because of the players age and the need to mature at the highest level of English football.
Lukaku himself argues that it was. He claims he didn’t celebrate the Champions League victory because he played no part in it, and that he didn’t get the chances he believed he deserved in the first team. He denounced AVB, saying that he did not help his development as a player. Yet playing with Drogba in training can only help his development, surely?
At just the age of 16, Lukaku was the leading goal scorer in the Belgium League for Anderlecht. In 73 first team appearances for the club, he scored 33 goals, and that record for a teenager in the top flight of the Belgium League is impressive by anyone’s standards.
The question is, can he crack it in the Prem? I believe he can, last year’s frustrations, is this year’s drive. He will push himself in training and pre-season to prove himself to RDM, to give him that chance of first team football. With Chelsea’s 4-2 win over Seattle Sounders, he picked up two goals where he showed pace and strength. It is only one game into Chelsea’s pre-season, but he has certainly started off on the right foot.
Is Lukaku the next Drogba? Can he terrify defences like Drogba? The honest answer, only time will tell, he certainly has the potential, and if that can be fulfilled, I think he can be better than the Ivorian.