“The day I play in this stadium, that will be the only time in my life you will ever see me cry. I’m going to succeed. I’m not dreaming. I’m going to play here someday I’m sure.”
When Romelu Lukaku first visited Stamford Bridge in 2010, he could hardly contain his emotions. Then a youngster at Anderlecht, the striker made it abundantly clear that he wanted to be Chelsea’s next superstar.
Now, we know that things didn’t exactly go to plan for Lukaku at Chelsea. 15 appearances did not yield a single goal and instead saw him shipped out on loan before eventually being sold to Everton in 2014.
Seven years have passed since then, but the stars could be aligning for Lukaku to make his return.
Just as they were in 2011, when Didier Drogba was preparing to leave the club, Chelsea find themselves needing a striker, and sources have confirmed to 90min that Lukaku has been offered the chance to fill the void once again.
Publicly, he has done his best to distance himself from the speculation, but 90min understands that Lukaku has made it clear to those around him that he would be interested in a return to Stamford Bridge, where he believes he has unfinished business.
To not score a single goal in his admittedly limited appearances for Chelsea will hurt Lukaku. We’re talking about one of the best strikers of his generation – one who is on track to be remembered as an all-time great – but amid all his success will be the niggling feeling that he didn’t live up to his promise made back in 2010.
Back then, it almost felt as though Lukaku’s introduction to Chelsea was rushed. Billed as ‘Baby Drogba’, he was still a kid when he was given the task of taking over from his hero at one of the biggest clubs on the planet. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work out.
He needed time to find his footing in the big leagues, and that’s exactly what loans to West Brom and Everton offered him. Lukaku put in the work needed to make himself a success at Stamford Bridge and is still waiting for the chance to show that.
Chelsea did try to offer him a route back to the club in 2017, but were too slow in their pursuit and ended up watching him move to Manchester United. They were tantalisingly close to bringing back their prodigal son, but it wasn’t to be.
This time, there can be no such mistake.
Chelsea are crying out for Lukaku and the 30 goals he bagged for Inter last season. He is the missing link. They are finally in the position to give him 90 minutes week after week and allow him to fulfil the dream which spurred him on to be a success in the first place.
Lukaku has it good at Inter, but with Antonio Conte now gone and those in charge a little too interested in selling their assets while their prices are high, his Italian dream is no longer what it was just 12 months ago.
The Belgian just wants a home where he will be loved, and Chelsea want a striker they can cherish all the way to the Premier League trophy ceremony. The pieces are all there, it’s just a question of making them fall into place.