Is Romelu Lukaku the Final Piece in Chelsea’s Jigsaw?
There have been some incredible transfers this summer. Lionel Messi to PSG, Jadon Sancho to Manchester United, and Jack Grealish to Manchester City are three of the most high-profile movers in a summer where the biggest clubs in Europe are looking to shuffle their packs.
As well as Messi, PSG have carried out some truly remarkable business this summer, adding Gigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos, and Gini Wijnaldum without paying a single dollar in transfer fees. But almost as impressive has been the foray into the transfer window of Champions League winners, Chelsea.
An impressive summer for the blues.
While they’re regularly accused of frivolous spending backed by their Russian oligarch owner, Roman Abramovich, their dealings under the guidance of German boss Thomas Tuchel seem to be astute and measured. The permanent departure of fringe players like Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Victor Moses, and Olivier Giroud has generated a tidy sum of 75 million euros for the west London club, and several others have departed on loan to reduce the competition for places.
But most impressively, these transfers paved the way for the arrival of Belgian superstar Romelu Lukaku, who returned to Stamford Bridge for a hefty fee of 115 million euros. But when you consider the fact that Chelsea’s net expenditure this season has been less than 40 million euros, you can’t be anything but impressed at their summer’s transfer dealings.
Lower club revenues have seen some transfer fees drop as players are returned somewhat to normal life outside of football’s huge transfer fees. Unfortunately, things are unlikely to change for the next number of months or possibly longer as new variants force governments into limiting who visits matches and thus gate fees are lowered. One of the main ways in which clubs have raised funds is through sponsorship with betting sites and companies like the ones listed here spreading their funds amongst clubs, Chelsea for example recently signed a commercial deal with Parimatch, no doubt bringing in some much needed funds for running the club.
As the season drags on it is likely that Chelsea will pivot their business strategies to increase revenues and build their war chest for future player signings. As with many other premier league clubs, Chelsea will likely look to improve their live streaming deals with tv stations, as less people feel comfortable watching matches in person due to the ever present covid threat. 2022 was a disastrous year for football clubs around the UK with virtually all games closed to fans for most of the year, and this continued into late 2022, as clubs opted to pub public health ahead of profit.
Unfortunately, despite great efforts and the abundance of vaccines, Covid 19 numbers have been increasing in the run up to Christmas, and it looks like more restrictions are likely to come into the beautiful game.
The return of the king.
When Lukaku left Chelsea in 2014 for Everton, he did so with his tail between his legs. Despite impressive Premier League loan spells at West Bromwich Albion and Everton, where he scored a hatful of goals, he couldn’t persuade Jose Mourinho that he would be able to fulfil his raw potential. But five successful years at Everton and Manchester United proved the Portuguese manager wrong before Lukaku signed for Inter Milan in 2019.
And while Lukaku was unplayable at times during his tenure at Old Trafford, fans were sometimes left frustrated by his lack of composure in front of goal and felt he wasn’t yet the finished article. He played under the stewardship of Antonio Conte at Inter Milan, and in a team that was hoping to win its first Scudetto since 2010, a huge emphasis was put on the developing shoulders of the powerful Belgian.
Anyone who watched Lukaku during his two seasons at Inter will tell you that he was the focal point of a talented team and spearheaded their attacks alongside the talented Lautaro Martinez. As Inter were crowned champions in Lukaku’s second season, it was clear that he was the undisputed king of Serie A, even though Zlatan Ibrahimović would probably tell you otherwise! And his rise to prominence in Italy was enough to convince Tuchel that Lukaku was everything that Jose Mourinho thought he couldn’t be – the perfect striker to fill the void left by club legend Didier Drogba.
The final piece in Tuchel’s jigsaw.
When Frank Lampard was appointed Chelsea’s new manager at the start of 2019, few fans could imagine that the legend would be ignominiously dismissed in the same fashion as many of his predecessors. But ever since Abramovich arrived at the Bridge, his ruthless approach to appointing and firing managers has no place for affection. And while Lampard brought some exciting young players into the first team (most notably Mason Mount), his lack of experience in the dugout and poor results on the pitch brought a swift end to his managerial tenure at the club.
When he was replaced by progressive German coach Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea fans weren’t totally convinced. After all, Tuchel had failed to deliver the elusive Champions League crown at PSG, despite having a wealth of riches at his disposal. And while additions to his squad like Edouard Mendy, Timo Werner, and Kai Havertz have improved Chelsea to no end and contributed enormously to their Champions League win last season, there has long been a gaping hole in the number nine position at the Bridge.
And in Romelu Lukaku, Tuchel will be almost certain that he has finally found the ready-made replacement for Didier Drogba. As hard as the likes of Diego Costa, Olivier Giroud, and Gonzalo Higuain tried, they couldn’t replace the talismanic Ivorian. But given Lukaku’s pedigree, goal-scoring ability, and the fact that he has a point to prove, Tuchel will be beaming that he has found the final part to his jigsaw and will be hoping to mount a serious challenge for the Premier League title this season.