As if designed to be a birthday gift for me, Chelsea have announced that Chelsea's biggest Belgian, Romelu Lukaku, will join West Bromwich Albion on a season-long loan, where he will wear the No. 20 shirt. West Brom, of course, achieved promotion for the 2010-11 Premier League season under a man we know well, current Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo, and are currently managed by former Chelsea man Steve Clarke.
We've all been expecting Lukaku to be sent on loan in the Premier League this season to hone his craft, but not the club where he'd be sent. After prolonged rumours of Fulham and Everton, West Brom emerged as a late favourite before finally announcing the deal this evening. Of course, with Lukaku loaned, we have just two real strikers left at the club in Fernando Torres and Daniel Sturridge, so we can probably expect some news on the striker front in the near future.The Midlands club do have a number of strikers on their books, including recent signing Markus Rosenberg, but I have no doubt that Lukaku will be able to break his way into the team. Unlike Josh McEachran being stuck behind Gylfi Sigurdsson at Swansea, Lukaku should have no problem getting past the likes of Shane Long, Simon Cox [who is rumoured to be on his way out], Marc-Antoine Fortune, and Peter Odemwingie and into the team.
All in all, this seems like a good situation for our Belgian man mountain. WBA are a good club, and Lukaku should fit in well at the Hawthorns. I'm sure Robbie, being a former Baggie himself, would have raised an objection if he felt the club wasn't going to be a fit for Lukaku, and re-establishing good relations with Steve Clarke following his adventure with Liverpool can only be a good thing.
It should be fun watching our biggest Belgian playing regularly and showing us what he can do, even if it's somewhere else for a while.
Update: Steve Clarke has spoken about Lukaku to the WBA website:
“He’s a strong, powerful centre-forward who is young, enthusiastic and eager to learn. He was also desperate to come here."“Romelu had a lot of Europe’s top clubs chasing him when he joined Chelsea from Anderlecht for big money a year ago and also had several Premier League teams wanting to take him on loan this summer, so we’ve done well to get him.“We’re more than happy for Romelu to continue his development with us. I am sure he will be a big help to the squad over the course of the season."