Why striker-hunting Mourinho is so relectunt to trust Chelsea’s loan star Romelu Lukaku
It’s a summer of change at Stamford Bridge as manager Jose Mourinho looks to shake up his Chelsea side to launch a renewed assault on the Premier League next season.
It is his forward options that he is most interested in changing this summer, having become deeply dissatisfied with his current forward options, with neither Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o or Demba Ba breaking into double figures for the league season.
Diego Costa appears to be on his way after agreeing to a £35 million move from Atletico Madrid in the summer, but despite wanting to keep Fernando Torres and now having Romelu Lukaku available following his loan spell at Everton, rumours suggest he is after another forward, with Mario Mandzukic of Bayern Munich his prime target.
Many have suggested that it is time for Lukaku to be given a chance in the Chelsea side after two successful loan spells in the Premier League, with Everton having been the latest beneficiaries following a season at West Brom the previous season.
Lukaku was one of the prime reasons as to why Everton were able to launch a bid to qualify for the Champions League this season and with Chelsea having shelled £18m to bring him in from Anderlecht as a promising 18-year-old, many believe it is either time for him to step up into first-team action, or depart the club once more – perhaps this time on a permanent basis.
Aged now 21 years of age, Lukaku has now had two seasons of regular Premier League action, but yet the statistics still find him trailing potential target Mandzukic and even the much-maligned Torres.
Lukaku’s 15 goals this season comfortably outstrip Torres in terms of total goals and goals per 90 minutes, but despite having had more minutes than Mandzukic has managed at Bayern, the Croatian striker has more goals (18), to be scoring at a rate of 0.55 goals per 90, though admittedly with a better side that enjoyed near dominance for the vast majority of the campaign.
Mandzukic’ conversion rate of 27.7% is also superior to his Belgian rival, with Lukaku having converted just 20.8% of his shots on goal, with the Bayern man hitting the target on a more regular basis with his efforts than Chelsea’s emerging youngster.
Jose Mourinho demands more from all of his players than just goals and has been more inclined to praise work-rate from his strikers rather than actual strike rate and while Lukaku performs admirably in this department, he still finds himself trailing his potential rivals in key areas.
Lukaku finds himself trailing the impressive Torres in assists per 90, trails both the Spaniard and Mandukic in terms of chances created per 90 and even despite his size and physical presence, Lukaku does not even win as many aerial duels as either or his potential rivals for a place at Chelsea.
There’s no doubt that Lukaku has improved his game massively during his loan spells with West Brom and Everton, but you get that feeling he may not quite yet be the finished article, and one can only assume that his lack of European experience could count against him in the mind of Mourinho.
Whether spending another £20 million a forward like Mandzukic is a major requirement when Lukaku appears to be getting better every year is another matter and with Costa already likely to be coming in and Torres performing better than people give him credit for, signing a further striker seems unnecessary competition for places.
There is plenty of evidence that at this moment in time, Mandzukic is more complete player, but his demand for first-team football (and Chelsea requiring to play by FFP rules) could destablise the Blues in unnecessary fashion when they already possess a very capable forward within their ranks in Lukaku.