In July 2004, Chelsea splashed £24m on an almost unknown Didier Drogba who was at the time, a late bloomer in terms of football development, and some said that it was a risk. Yes he was performing well in Ligue 1 for Olympique de Marseille, scoring 19 goals in his first season, but some thought his price tag to be too high.
Yet the then Chelsea Chief Executive Peter Kenyon defended the purchase by saying ‘I think his record speaks for itself, I and everyone else feel confident that the money spent on him will be paid back in doing what he does best – by scoring goals” But the risk was worth it and seven years on, Didier Drogba has become one of the greatest strikers in the world, defining the ‘target man’ position and becoming the best in the World at this role.
Drogba was a key member of the squad, that helped win the Premier League titles of 04-05, 05-06 and the 09-10 campaigns, he was also an instrumental figure in bringing in more silverware for the club, like the three FA Cups and the two League Cup successes – But his time is now coming to an end with Chelsea and we should now look to take another risk, just like we did in 2004.
Romelu Lukaku is only 18, but is already making big impressions for Anderlecht, and on the International scene for Belgium. He is of the same mould as Drogba, a big powerful, pacey forward who has a very bright future ahead of him. He has already managed to score 39 goals in 96 games for Anderlecht, and was even brought onto the International stage last year at the tender age of 17. He has scored twice in nine appearances for the Belgians.
Neymar on the other hand is yes, an incredible talent that everyone including me would love to see at the Bridge, but he has a very heavy price tag at £40m. Plus every time a player with barely any strength and more flair has come to the premiership, what has happened? They falter, because they can’t handle the pace and the muscular demands of English Football.
Players like Robinho, Jo and Ricardo Quaresma were just bundled off of the ball too easily; their game is not suited to the Premier League. The only exception of this nature would be Cristiano Ronaldo, but we all know he had a great manager to guide him, plus the benefit of being one of the greatest players of his generation that helped him to become a hit in the Premier League.
Yes, Chelsea now have Torres to see us through the next few years; don’t get me wrong he is an incredible striker who is proven in the Premiership. But for Chelsea to look long term they must look to Lukaku. He is young, already showing great promise, half the price of what Neymar would cost, and looks like he could be the next Didier Drogba. He would also fit right in to the Chelsea style of play, there wouldn’t need to be any shifting around, it would just be a straight swap, Drogba out, Lukaku in.
If Chelsea do decide to look to this option, there could be more success to look forward to over the next few years.
by Jack Griffiths
Twitter – @JGriffiths89