Is this Everton star finally repaying his big money transfer fee?
Before this weekend only four men belonged to an elite club of players to have scored 50 Premier League goals before their 23rd birthday. With his brace against Aston Villa, Romelu Lukaku joined that club, becoming the fourth youngest to do so. So why is his talent still being questioned?
When Lukaku arrived at Chelsea from Anderlecht he drew immediate comparisons to Didier Drogba largely due to his size and power. However he was showing potential that the Ivorian did not at that age. He didn’t get his chance at Stamford Bridge, but it was assumed, after a hugely impressive loan spell at West Brom, that he would be given the chance to stake his claim for a Chelsea starting birth, especially with given the struggles that Fernando Torres was experiencing at the time.
Instead he was farmed out on loan again, this time to Everton. 15 goals in 29 games followed and Everton were convinced enough by his talents to splash out £28m on the former Anderlecht star.
The Toffees are not a club with an unlimited budget, and Bill Kenwright is well known to be careful about any purchase. Although the Belgian international had shown plenty of promise it was a massive deal for a player that had effectively been rejected by a top four club. With respect to Everton, due to the talent Lukaku possesses it was a surprise he chose to move to Goodison, or perhaps other offers failed to materialise. It is undoubtedly to Everton’s advantage that they didn’t.
Now into his third season with the club things haven’t always gone to plan. Last season he looked slow, often failing to dominate proceedings as he had done during his loan spell. Many players struggle under the weight of enormous price tags and can struggle to adjust to life as the team’s central point; Lukaku seemed to be no different. Reports questioning his attitude and commitment began to surface. He laboured to 10 Premier League goals due to a combination of a niggling foot injury and Kevin Mirallas and Aiden McGeady’s failure to provide consistent service. The strains of European participation took their toll and Lukaku’s supporting cast didn’t shine as they could.
This season couldn’t be more different. Roberto Martinez’s side are playing the type of football we saw two years ago, fast, direct, exciting. The Everton manager is building a side that showcases the Belgians ability. Lukaku is a centre forward with the perfect abilities to dominate the modern game. His blend of pace, power and physical dominance means that, at his best, there aren’t many defenders that can contain him, something that Martin Skrtel and Jose Fonte can attest to already this season.
The former Chelsea striker has struck up an excellent accord with Ross Barkley and Gérard Deulofeu and the young trio, along with Arouna Kone, have caused huge problems for opposition defences so far this season. His hold up play, something that was criticised last season, has improved considerably and he has almost matched the number of assists he recorded last term already.
He isn’t a James McCarthy or Steven Naismith who will cover every blade of grass and has therefore come under pressure for his perceived lack of work rate. However he is also the focal point of the team, the star, and as such is put under more scrutiny than other players.
There are still parts of his game that need improvement but that will come with time. It seems ridiculous for a man with his goal scoring record, but at times he could be more clinical. He also needs to affect the game on a more consistent basis in the same way those other four players on that select list did, or do. The very best are able to lift a team to levels almost on their own and during his loan spell on Merseyside that’s exactly what he did. Everton’s form will dip at some stage this season, and the Belgian will need to prove he can carry his team like only the elite can.
Roberto Martinez claimed earlier this month that the striker would be worth £55m should any potential suitors want to take him away from Goodison Park, something that Juventus and PSG are rumoured to be keen on doing. Some onlookers scoffed at the Spaniard’s assertion, but given his goal scoring exploits at such a tender age I’m sure a reasonable argument could be made, given some other recent transfer activity, to suggest he could be worth more than that.
Another couple of years and Lukaku will easily be worth the money that Everton shelled out for him, but if he continues at this current rate, he will repay that money even sooner. Some would argue he already has.
Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by Aleksandr Osipov.
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