Romelu Lukaku will probably be on loan again next season

Stu Forster

Bad news if you've been hoping for The One Who's Bigger Than A Fridge to return to Stamford Bridge. It's probably not going to be next year.

I hate to burst your bubble if you're desperately-looking for Romelu Lukaku to lead the Chelsea line next season, but I'm going to. He's probably going on loan for one more year. According to the interview he gave the Studio Brussel, a radio station in Belgium. Now, as a non-Belgian, I can't actually say if the interview took place, but I'm going to trust Het Laatste Nieuws on this, since they're one of the biggest media outlets in Belgium. Take a look at the following Tweets from their correspondent in England:

None of that should be overly-surprising at this point. There have been very strong rumours all season that the big Belgian will be spending time away from the Bridge in the 2013-14 season. It's hard to find fault with it, really. He just turned 20 today,* and can still develop a bit yet. The twist here is that he'll likely be headed to a club who've guaranteed European football, rather than back to West Bromwich Albion, where the fans have fallen in love with him:

Determining which club that might be, though, is a bit more difficult. In England, there's going to be a definite lack of good options for the club. Assuming a stay at Chelsea isn't likely for him next season, that leaves Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham, Swansea, and Wigan as European options in England. United and City have no obvious need, and wouldn't be a step down from Chelsea. Neither Arsenal nor Tottenham have striking options who would get in his way, but they're both local and Top Four rivals. That leaves just Swansea and Wigan.

Wigan, who managed to earn themselves entry into the Europa League by playing in, and winning, the FA Cup Final, aren't a particularly-attractive option at this point. Barring a minor miracle, Wigan will be playing in the Championship next year. Lukaku is more than holding his own in Premier League this season, so a drop down with Wigan, who are also unlikely to make much impact on the Europa League, would be a poor decision.

Swansea are the only really-good option in England for both the Belgian and Chelsea. They play nice football, and are currently lacking a top striker. It would seem to be a nearly-perfect situation for him. Similar things were said about Josh McEachran's trip to South Wales just last season, yet he managed only a handful of appearances. That said, Swansea aren't likely to buy a more-developed striker to block him, as they did to Josh by buying Gylfi Sigurdsson.

If the club were to want to look elsewhere, for whatever reason, there isn't any shortage of clubs in Europe who can give him a decent standard of football. Any of the Europa League clubs of the Top Five nations would probably suit him, though Germany are probably the best second option, given the high standard of their football, which is also probably the most like the English game at the moment. While a Champions League club from a lesser country might be an option too, I can't see it being an option. Very few of those clubs are likely to make much of an impact in the Champion League, and a few games with an also-ran in group stage is unlikely to compensate for the lower standard of league football.

All in all, Swansea are the likeliest option. Lukaku has already excelled in England, and will be expected to continue to do so in future. For those reasons, I think another Premier League loan makes the most sense for him. I'm not glad about the prospect of Swansea, honestly, but they're on about the same level as his current loan club, but with the added benefit of the Europa League. They've also been linked with a loan move before this season. Plus, it gives Chelsea the opportunity to have a player at the club ready and willing to Hulk out on that ball boy dude. Release the ball, or we release THE KRAKEN!!!

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