WTTGT Writer: Seb Segarra
Romelu Lukaku is not an unheard of player. He is, in fact, quite heard of, particularly in Belgium where he is on over half of Anderlecht fans’ shirts. The muscle-bound Belgian, born in Antwerp, has been busting his way through Jupiler Pro League defences for two seasons now.
The 18 year old, with a 6’ 4’’, well-built physique, made his breakthrough when Lierse SK took him into their youth academy in 2004. The youngster scored an incredible 121 goals in 68 games between then and 2006. He was already physically bigger than most other boys, and this only helped highlight his football talent. As if to prove this scoring record was no fluke, Lukaku then scored 131 goals in 93 games, after transferring to the Anderlecht youth team.
This young form helped Lukaku to make his debut for the first-team less than a fortnight after turning 16. He replaced a defender as Ariel Jacobs (Anderlecht’s manager) tried pull his team back level with Standard Liege in a play-off for the title (after both teams finished on equal points and wins). Lukaku failed to change the score line and Anderlecht still lost, however this new player was seen as Anderlecht’s future – be it through his goals or a massive transfer fee.
The following season Lukaku scored 19 goals and got 7 assists which prompted Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid to enquire about his availability. After Roger Lukaku (Romelu’s father, and former professional footballer) cancelled negotiations claiming his son needed “one more year at Anderlecht”, Mourinho rued his missed chance, only commenting : “He [Lukaku] has a very clever father.”
This development suddenly made the world sit up. Since then, top European clubs have been keeping tabs on him. Lukaku scored 20 goals and got another 7 assists in the 2010/11 season, which has reportedly prompted bids from Chelsea and Arsenal.
The battering ram of a striker has much to learn before he can be classed in a similar category to Didier Drogba, however most Arsenal fans would be very disheartened to see him join the Blues just as it seems Drogba is dropping past his best. At Chelsea, he would never be given the platform he needs, always playing understudy to Torres, Anelka, Drogba and even Sturridge.
At Arsenal, he would be given the opportunity to score goals every week. His pace, power and strength fits perfectly with the finesse, accuracy and build-up play of the current Arsenal squad. The player looks likely to cost around £20m, and it is understandable that many fans would rather see that spent on a defender, however Lukaku seems to be tailor made for the Arsenal attacking-jigsaw that is missing one piece.
His aerial ability can be used at set-pieces, offensive and defensive, and his strength and hunger are something else Arsenal have lacked in recent seasons. Although his finishing needs refining, this jewel could help Arsenal and Belgium reach great heights in years to come.
Romelu Lukaku is not an unheard of player. Soon, he may just be the exact opposite. The question remains… where?