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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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Frank Lampard claims it is hard for Chelsea players to focus amidst coronavirus

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Frank Lampard claims it is hard for Chelsea players to focus amidst coronavirus

According to a report by Sky Sports, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has claimed that it is very difficult for the team to stay focused amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

With thousands of people losing their lives every single day, this is a situation which is unlike anything the world has ever seen before. Numerous countries are in lockdown to prevent the virus from spreading and these are troubling times indeed.

The ongoing season was suspended until the end of April but as of now, there is concrete timeframe as to when footballing action may return.

Like other teams, Chelsea players are also currently training at home. And Lampard believes that the situation has made it difficult for the players to focus and remain motivated (h/t Sky Sports).

Speaking with Chelsea’s ‘The 5th Stand’ official club app via FaceTime (h/t Sky Sports), Lampard said: “It is very difficult at the moment because we have got nothing concrete in front of us.”

Chelsea were first to impose self-isolation on the players and the staff when Callum Hudson-Odoi became the first in the Premier League to test positive for the disease.

Lampard admitted that these are tough times but was quick to add that he is there for all the players mentally and physically.

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It remains to be seen when things return to normal but for now, the health and well-being of the people should come before anything else.

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Hakim Ziyech urged to not mess up Chelsea transfer after FIFA ruling

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Hakim Ziyech urged to not mess up Chelsea transfer despite FIFA ruling

According to a report by Daily Express, Dutch outlet De Telegraaf has urged Hakim Ziyech to not jeopardize his transfer to Chelsea by playing for Ajax in the summer.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the season has been suspended until the end of April but it remains to be seen how the situation progresses from here.

The date could be extended further if the situation worsens and as a result, the season would stretch beyond July 1st – which is when his contract with Chelsea will begin (h/t Daily Express).

Ziyech agreed on a deal to join us officially in the summer and acquiring his services was a huge boost for us back in January.

Daily Express claims that FIFA are working towards bringing about short-term contracts to play the remaining fixtures since this has created chaos not just for Ziyech but a lot of players whose futures remain up in the air.

However, the Moroccan has been urged to stick to the original contract that was agreed on by Chelsea and Ajax by De Telegraaf (h/t Daily Express).

Their argument is that FIFA’s short-term measures cannot be compared to an employment contract in the eyes of courts. And hence, he has been advised to not ruin his move to Chelsea.

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This does make sense on numerous levels – the primary one being that things could be complicated further if he picks up an injury in any of these games.

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Berbatov urges Lampard to bring struggling Real Madrid star to Chelsea

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Frank Lampard urged to bring Luka Jovic to Chelsea by Dimitar Berbatov

According to a report by football.london, former Manchester United ace Dimitar Berbatov has urged Frank Lampard to bring Luka Jovic to Chelsea.

The Real Madrid striker has become surplus to requirements at Santiago Bernabeu. And football.london suggests that a falling out with manager Zinedine Zidane has further pushed him out to the periphery.

Despite joining the La Liga giants from Eintracht Frankfurt after a splendid 27-goal season, Jovic has failed to make things work with Real Madrid.

As a result, he has been linked to joining Chelsea and Berbatov has urged Lampard to pounce on the opportunity and sign him (h/t football.london).

Since switching sides, the Serbian striker has just scored 4 goals. Meanwhile, football.london claims that Lampard wanted to sign a striker back in January, despite Tammy Abraham’s promising displays.

Speaking to BetFair (h/t football.london), Berbatov drew instances from his own career as a footballer and explained why Jovic has all the tools needed to be a success for numerous top-flight clubs in England – including Chelsea.

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Signing Jovic would provide Lampard with two top-quality youngsters to lead the line while also easing the burden on Abraham.

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Italy boss Roberto Mancini urges struggling Chelsea star to leave Stamford Bridge

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Italy boss Roberto Mancini urges Emerson Palmieri to exit Chelsea

According to a report by The Metro, Italy boss Roberto Mancini has urged Emerson Palmieri to exit Chelsea.

The report claims that the former Manchester City manager is reconsidering his options for the national squad with the Euro 2020 tournament postponed for next summer.

With an additional year at hand to plan everything out, Mancini believes that as far as his options for full-back are concerned, Emerson would have a better chance if moves to Italy and plays there (h/t The Metro).

When quizzed about his full-back unit while speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t The Metro), Mancini said: “It would be nice if Emerson Palmieri, who hasn’t played much for Chelsea, could come and play in Italy.”

Assessing his options, Mancini added that Adam Masina has gone under the radar since moving to Watford. He also suggested that while Luca Pellegrini has spent time with the senior squad, there is room for improvement.

It is true that Emerson hasn’t featured much for Chelsea right from the time that Maurizio Sarri was at the helm. Despite a change in management, the player appears to have failed to convince Frank Lampard to hand him a starting role.

With the likes of Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta quite ahead of him in the pecking order, it would make sense for him to leave Chelsea to solidify his chances of getting selected in the Italy squad next year.

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For the time being, all footballing action has been suspended until the end of April due to the coronavirus pandemic and it remains to be seen how the situation fares from there.

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