This article is a time capsule as I (Daniel Soff) wrote this on the 13th of May 2011 whilst Lukaku was still at Anderlecht.
There is a very good chance young Romelu Lukaku will be a Chelsea player next season and in my estimation as an asset, he will prove a great buy.
On first hearing of a supposed “New Drogba Superkid” two years ago now, I was intrigued, YouTube was my friend and like so many others I was left very impressed. The Belgian was a 16 year old talented footballer that was physically competing with men, the same way a young Wayne Rooney was able to when he first emerged as a 16 year old, however, for me at least, what became off putting in the following months were the extraordinary prices being quoted for the lad and the “New Drogba” tag, which I believe is very misleading.
After eventually watching Anderlecht matches specifically for Lukaku, it was obvious to me that Romelu was a project to be worked on by whichever club he’d eventually sign for. A physical specimen standing at a muscle packed 6ft2 at the time, Lukaku looked cumbersome and almost moved like a heavyweight boxer would if they were to be invited to play in a charity football match.
To Lukaku’s credit, despite his size he still showed attributes you would associate with more trimmer athletes, he showed pace, he showed some skill and he was also somewhat fleet footed. I was still left disappointed, because it became clearer to me exactly how much he differs from Chelsea’s Didier Drogba.
Lukaku “looks up to” Didier Drogba figuratively, but, in reality Romelu is taller than Drogba, I’d also wager that Romelu weighs more than the Chelsea forward.
Drogba has the archetypal physique of a strong ‘English Premier League’ striker, Drogba is not however, considered strong when compared to a bodybuilder or a heavyweight boxer. An ideal imposing footballer needs to achieve the balance of strength, up until the point where it does not noticeably hinder athleticism and agility. The Ivorian is closer to that balance when compared to Lukaku, but admittedly, it is something that the young player has improved on.
Lukaku also seemed more of an “end of move” striker, a Ruud van Nistlerooy, a player whose game revolves more around providing the final finish, arriving to meet the final header, dictating where he’d like the ball and then finding spaces so that he could ghost in and score.
Lukaku was less of a bully than Drogba, he didn’t impose himself as you would expect someone with his physical power to do and his overall game outside the box didn’t match his talent inside the box. Darren Bent isn’t sought after by the Premier Leagues elite because although he’s a goal scorer, his all round game is lacking, it became evident that this kid has been labelled the “New Didier Drogba” primarily because of how he looks.
This is me speaking 10 years latter again
I was disappointed that I didn’t explain my opening comment about why I think he’d be a good signing in the conclusion. When looking for the article 10 years later I was sure that I spoke about how players like Lampard and Gary Neville had great self-improvement mentalities that helped them become better versions of themselves and even if he didn’t work out well here buying young talents presents the opportunity for resale value. Alas that’s the article as written in 2011.