You've probably all heard of him by now, and we've looked at him before (here), but with the recent rumors starting to sound like a Chelsea switch may be immanent it seems a good time to take a deeper look at the Belgian sensation. If you haven't heard of him yet, he's a center forward who just celebrated his 18th birthday in May (meaning if he signed now he'd become "homegrown" when he turns 21). He's been playing for RSC Anderlecht of the Belgian league, and is a regular first choice now of the Belgian senior national team.
At 6'4" and 221 pounds with the type of speed, jumping ability, and strength he possesses, Lukaku would be an NFL scouts dream if he was born in the states. He's just a rare athlete, which certainly won't hurt his chances of success in the most physical league in Europe. Beyond his athleticism, his biggest strengths are his outstanding coordination and his ability to be equally effective with either foot. He's also a relatively quiet kid that's noted for being mature beyond his years by the Belgian press. All in all, there's just not a whole lot about the kid not to like. We'll have a few videos after the jump.Here's the first video I'm going to include for you. Besides just enjoying his obvious talent, there's a few really interesting things to watch out for here. Early in the clip his speed is glaringly obvious, keep in mind these are top flight professional players that he's simply blowing by like they aren't there. While the center backs in the Premier League will generally be bigger than those you see here, they won't generally be all that much faster. Speed like Lukaku displays is generally only seen out on the wings in England.
Secondly, be aware of how physical his game is. After the initial few goals where he simply outruns everybody, you start to see Romelu use his massive frame to screen defenders from the ball as he sets himself up for a shot. He's even better before the run, as you'll see him screen the defender to create a giant space for a pass in almost every run. Doing this simply allows him to outrun the screened player to the ball after it's played in.
This second video is from Chelsea's double winning season. You can really see the physical play again here, and this one highlights him subtly blocking off defenders to create space on set pieces. Once again, if you pick him out before his runs it's very interesting to see how he uses his body to create the run even if it's not there initially.
The real concern at this point with Lukaku is fit as the world class talent is obvious. Six months ago, Lukaku seemed a perfect fit for a squad that was seemingly very long in the tooth with their center forwards. Since that point, we've spent 50 million pounds on Fernando Torres and seen young Daniel Sturridge impress greatly. We've also seen somewhat mixed results when playing with a two striker system, as width from the midfield is something we really don't have. Going forward though, we're likely to see a very different personnel group in our first team, so that may not be a huge concern. Still, it's worth noting that he's not really filling a need at this point.
What are your thoughts on Lukaku? Is he a good fit for Chelsea, or should we be passing on him in favor of other positions? Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section, as I'm really starting to get a stron impression that we'll be seeing him in a Chelsea kit in the coming days.