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Chelsea 0, Bournemouth 1. It is the sort of scoreline one might have once associated with a League Cup upset, suffered by a shadow squad of youngsters with Chelsea’s regular XI focused on the bigger picture. However, it was the result on Saturday attained by a gang of millionaire mercenaries, calamitously recording Chelsea’s third home defeat to-nil vs Bournemouth in five seasons.

Disrespectfully or otherwise, any loyal Chelsea fan would assert that this is unacceptable against a club with far less Premier League pedigree, and especially one that has been leaking goals for fun in recent weeks. All of the Bournemouth defeats in question, along with results like the West Ham shock and the  this season, leave Chelsea fans wondering just who could make the difference in the final third on a consistent basis.

Sadly, one such striker was once on Chelsea’s books, only to find himself locked out of any first team opportunities. His name, Romelu Lukaku.

Devils’ Trident Offers Chelsea Hellish Regret

On the international scene, Lukaku is now the front prong of a deadly trident, resplendent in red and representing the nation that reached FIFA’s #1 spot for the first time ever earlier this year. With his hulking frame, venomous shot and dead-eye for goal, Lukaku has everything in a traditional number nine – and more.

Lukaku’s switch from Old Trafford to the San Siro in the summer has once more brought out the best in him, and this is reflected in his new club’s current fortunes, with Inter Milan going into the final fixture of 2019 atop the Serie A table. A frequent pick for anytime scorer by experts who offer advice , Lukaku has continually thrived alongside one of the Italian top-flight’s best players right now, namely Lautaro Martinez, resoundingly proving that he needed more time at Chelsea.

Even now, over eight years after Lukaku’s arrival at Stamford Bridge, people are left wondering just how Chelsea let this gem slip through their fingers. For the start of Lukaku’s ‘whole rotten saga’, we need to turn the clock back to October 2010, when the Blues were still high from an FA Cup and league double, but with a crown under siege by the two Manchester clubs.

2010: Lukaku’s Promise Shines in Pitched Battle for Signature

Almost a decade ago, the 17-year old Lukaku was on fire for RSC Anderlecht, physically tormenting opposition defenders ten years his senior and leaving them for dead week after week. The links had been varied and wide over the summer of 2010, but by the autumn, it was in fact Arsenal who emerged as the likeliest candidates.

A minimum value of around £12m was the stated price for Lukaku’s signature, and it stood to reason, with his strike-rate standing at just under 50% by the Christmas of 2010/11, only six months after he had ended the 2009/10 First Division season as the top scorer – the same season in which he became the then-youngest goalscorer in European competition.

In August 2011, Chelsea won the race for Lukaku, having already been strong contenders alongside the likes of Arsenal. With a mixture of speed and skill that bore traces of Didier Drogba, Chelsea’s pursuit stood to reason. While the 2009/10 season had been a vintage for Drogba, as his goalscoring prowess ultimately helped Chelsea win the Premier League on goal difference, his prime years were numbered.

While there was surely at least a desire to give Lukaku some playing time in 2011/12, or recall him during his loan spells at West Brom and Everton, the climate was not an accommodating one. The tactics of Andre Villas-Boas demanded a striker with experience, and the ability to lead a front three much, ironically, in the way Lukaku currently does for Belgium in front of fellow ‘Chelsea rejects’ Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard.

Villas-Boas System Unsuitable for Lukaku

A 4-3-3 is always difficult to lead for a youngster, and with Drogba and Torres getting 24 goals combined as the frontmen, there was ultimately no need to accommodate Lukaku.

There is also the simple fact that even in a team where two outright strikers lead the line, one is going to spend a lot of time on the bench. The only possible exception is when said ‘third wheel’ is well bedded-in, knows the club very well, and is comfortable within a managerially-devised rotation protocol, or at least a system of phased substitutions.

With only the midfield given much fluidity and license to deviate as necessary from position, Lukaku would have also found it difficult to explore his own skillset under Villas-Boas. The pressure on Lukaku to provide matchwinning goals would also have been redoubled by the famously-high defensive line that Villas-Boas held so dear.

Unfortunately for Villas-Boas himself, he was by then working in a very different Premier League climate, compared to what countryman Jose Mourinho faced at the start of 2004/05. What worked with an FC Porto squad , in a league where the club has only one other realistic rival (Benfica) ultimately failed, and cost him his job at Chelsea.

Even if Lukaku has been in the first team frame during the tenures of Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo, the environment, and the lack of mutual understanding between players and management in the dressing room, would have done him a true disservice.

No Going Back After West Brom and Everton Loans

With memories of how Drogba settled so quickly into the Premier League still fresh in the memory, Chelsea fans were naturally excited to receive a new potential hero back in 2011. However, there were always concerns about whether he would take too long to get up to Premier League standard, both physically and in terms of sheer ruthlessness.

For a club of Chelsea’s stature, playing Lukaku in favour of long-term vision over short-term ambition was too risky. Rightly or wrongly for the time, ‘stick’ rather than ‘twist’ was the decision, and the damage to Lukaku’s time at Stamford Bridge , as he spent the entire season playing reserve football.

Though Chelsea won the Champions League, a sixth-place finish in the Premier League was not enough. With new champions Manchester City now the ‘rich kids’, the summer of 2012 should have been the one to see Lukaku finally promoted to the first team, in order to inject an element of surprise – just as he had done in the 2011/12 league finale against Blackburn.

After instead proving himself with West Bromwich Albion on loan in 2012/13, and later Everton before sealing that big move to Manchester United in 2017, Lukaku’s continued omission remains – in hindsight – one of Chelsea’s worst, yet most understandable decisions of modern times.

Alas, some relationships in football are never meant to be. Had Chelsea waited a few years, and stolen him away from his alternate-reality destination – possibly around the time he joined Everton in the true course of events – the Blues could have had the next Didier Drogba ready to go.

Ultimately, the curse of Chelsea fans is to never know ‘what if’. While Lukaku may well have sulked his way into a transfer abroad this year – but with Chelsea instead of Manchester United – every fan who looks back on a limp performance like last weekend’s, and bemoans a lack of attacking prowess, cannot help but think of what better man-management of Lukaku in the early 2010s could have achieved.

 

 

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Transfer blow for Chelsea as La Liga giants are confident of winning the race for 22-year-old hotshot

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Lautaro Martinez has impressed at Inter Milan

Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez is a target for several top clubs

Chelsea are interested in landing Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez but face competition from several clubs, according to SPORT (h/t Express).

The Argentine forward has impressed at Inter this season, scoring 16 goals in all competitions. The 22-year-old is also a target for Manchester City but will snub advances from the Premier League duo (h/t Express).

Lautaro Martinez is a target for many clubs
Inter Milan’s English midfielder Ashley Young (R) celebrates with Inter Milan’s Argentinian forward Lautaro Martinez (Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP) (Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)

Barcelona are also interested in his services and believe they will nab the forward, according to the report.

The Catalan giants wanted to sign him in January but were put off by his asking price. That could change in the next transfer window as Martinez’s £92million release clause expires soon (h/t Express).

The report claims that clubs would have to pay a heftier price to land the forward and Barca believe Martinez will join them over the Premier League duo for footballing reasons.

The Argentine might not be the most prolific striker in the top leagues, but he is a talent and puts in a shift every time he is on the pitch.

Chelsea to miss out on a talent?

We have had our issues with the transfer ban since the start of this season. However, with that coming to an end, Frank Lampard does need another option up top.

Tammy Abraham
Tammy Abraham started the season well for the Blues

Olivier Giroud has done a decent job whenever called upon while Tammy Abraham impressed at the start of the campaign.

However, Giroud is 33 and we could do with more young blood to lead the line. Abraham, for his part, also struggled for goals before the season was halted.

Lampard also brought in several youngsters this season into the team, and it will be interesting to see who we can land in the transfer window.

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Lampard has done a great job with a lack of funds this season, but we need to strengthen the side with some quality signings too.

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Frank Lampard to be handed £150m war chest to rebuild Chelsea in the summer window

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Chelsea were unable to add fresh players to the side in January

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard will be handed £150m to rebuild the Blues in the next transfer window, according to the Daily Star (h/t Express).

Lampard was unable to land any fresh faces in the winter window, though we did sign Hakim Ziyech for the upcoming campaign.

The manager’s hands were tied at the start of this season due to the transfer ban. However, that was lifted before the winter window but we didn’t strengthen the side.

Hakim Ziyech made a name for himself at Ajax
Hakim Ziyech will join Chelsea next season

The report claims that the club has promised Lampard a £150m transfer kitty for the summer, and the boss has a few targets in mind.

Lampard wants to sign a left-back, striker, centre-back and a goalkeeper with the funds (h/t Express).

Blues have some big targets in mind

The Express adds that the manager hasn’t been convinced by Kepa Arrizabalaga this season with Willy Caballero even getting some games.

Gianluigi Donnarumma and Marc-Andre ter Stegen are two options for the goalkeeping spot (h/t Express).

Gianluigi Donnarumma
Gianluigi Donnarumma is one of the best keepers in Serie A

Moussa Dembele of Lyon is a target to solve our attacking issues while Alex Telles is the left-back Chelsea are tracking, according to the report.

The Blues are being linked with several centre-backs and Gabriel Magalhaes of Lille is one of the options (h/t Express).

Lampard did a great job with the players at hand this season but we need more signings to improve the side.

A lack of transfers in the winter window has been problematic in our chase for Champions League football. However, the season has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

There is no guarantee when football will resume next and we are sitting in fourth place currently.

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Hopefully, we hold onto that place when the season starts, and that would be a decent enough first campaign under the new gaffer.

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“Chelsea said it would be impossible” – Blues star reveals roadblock in contract negotiations

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Willian celebrates after scoring

Willian is a free agent at the end of this season

Brazilian winger Willian has revealed that Chelsea weren’t willing to offer him a long-term deal to keep him at Stamford Bridge.

The 31-year-old is a free agent at the end of the season and The Express reports that Willian seems likely to leave us.

Willian
Willian has been excellent during his time at Chelsea

Willian has been an excellent servant at Stamford Bridge, but the problem lies with Chelsea’s policy.

The club doesn’t offer long-term deals to players above 30, and Willian wants a three-year deal (h/t Express).

The Brazilian was speaking to Expediente Futebol and believed his time was up at the club (h/t Express):

“I think it will be very difficult for me to renew because Chelsea offered me two years, I asked for three and it ended there, we didn’t talk anymore, we didn’t negotiate anymore.

“Three years… Chelsea said it would be impossible, so for now there’s this difficulty, but nothing is impossible.”

There were reports of Willian being contacted by other clubs, however, the Brazilian rubbished such claims.

Willian also spoke about possibly returning to Brazil but still wants to play more in Europe:

“I honestly cannot say whether I will return to Brazil and end my career here, or I will end in Europe or elsewhere.

“But if I really happen to return to Brazil, Corinthians would be a cool club to end at, to play for. It was the club where I was revealed, I have a special affection.”

A blow for the Blues?

Willian is one of the most hard-working players we have in the team, but the contract policy seems to be rigid.

The Brazilian has seven goals and six assists for us this season and has put in some brilliant performances too.

Willian
Willian is out of a contract at the end of this season

Handing a 31-year-old a two-year deal is a pretty good move but it seems both parties are off by a year.

It would have been great to keep hold of Willian for another year at least, and it will be interesting to see what happens next.

More Chelsea News

The football season has been put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic, and no one knows what will happen regarding the transfer window or the season too.

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A View From The Bridge

Chelsea starlet thanks supporters and fans for support during coronavirus battle

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Callum Hudson-Odoi thanks fans and team-mates for support during coronavirus battle

Speaking on the club’s official site (h/t Metro), Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi has thanked fans and teammates for their support during his battle against coronavirus.

The 19-year-old starlet became the first Premier League player to test positive for the virus. Thankfully, the player has now made a complete recovery.

“I would like to say to them thank you for all the support that you have shown.”

Callum Hudson-Odoi of Chelsea
Callum Hudson-Odoi was the first EPL player to test positive

He went on to thank his well-wishers for their support and revealed that he cannot wait to be back on the pitch.

“I fully feel good, I feel fit, so I am feeling back to myself so it is all good.”

The youngster revealed that he first started showing symptoms of the virus three weeks ago. He initially thought it was a minor temperature issue, but was proven wrong later.

Hudson-Odoi wasn’t overly troubled by the symptoms and reveals that he is completely fine now. The youngster also made a special call to the support offered by his teammates.

“It has been very warming and a good feeling to know you have got your team-mates behind you”

Callum Hudson-Odoi
Callum Hudson-Odoi in action (Getty Images)

He described it as a wonderful feeling to be backed by his teammates during this difficult time.

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Hudson-Odoi came through the Chelsea youth system before making it to the first-team at Stamford Bridge.

The versatile attacker has made 53 appearances for the Blues and has 8 goals and 10 assists to his name. The youngster has also won three caps for the English national team.

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