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It is easy to forget Romelu Lukaku was Chelsea’s record signing for the best part of 18 months before the Blues signed Enzo Fernandez in January. Out on loan with Inter Milan and not even a regular there, the Belgian striker is in dire need of reinvigoration to revive his career – and as he prepares to take over, Mauricio Pochettino could be just the manager he needs to guide him.
Pochettino already has one personal success he can look back on his career with pride, with the Argentine boss playing a crucial part in Harry Kane’s rise from a backup striker to the club’s all-time record goalscorer.
When he was sacked by Spurs four years ago, Kane’s emotional farewell message proved just how influential he felt the 51-year-old had been on his career.
“Gaffer. I’ll be forever thankful to you for helping me achieve my dreams,” Kane wrote on social media after Pochettino had been sacked by Tottenham in November 2019. “We’ve had some amazing moments in the last five and a half years that I will never forget. You were my manager but my friend as well and I thank you for that relationship.”
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Now, with Chelsea still struggling for goals and in desperate need for a new No 9, Lukaku may return to Stamford Bridge this summer with a lifeline to turn his Stamford Bridge nightmare around.
It is clear the Belgian could still have a play to part under Pochettino, a manager who has been hurt by his goals before, with very little competition for the central striker role. As a target man with immense strength and a thunderous left foot, Chelsea could do a lot worse than going back to their former record signing.
Kai Havertz has been Chelsea’s top goalscorer this season with nine in all competitions, the same tally Lukaku has managed on loan with Inter. Lukaku has also been hampered by injury at the San Siro this season and has only made 15 starts in the Serie A, scoring six goals in 21 appearances. All six of his appearances in the Champions League have come from the bench, but the Belgian has still managed to bag three times for the Italian outfit.
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There is little from Lukaku’s first season to suggest he would be more prolific, having scored only eight times in 26 games in his first campaign in 2021-22. But if there is a boss with the man-management skills who can inject confidence and get him firing, it is Pochettino.
His words of affirmation and praise will suit a player of Lukaku’s fragile ego and by giving him a chance to impress in the centre forward role, it would be a huge leap of faith in the striker. He may not have the same creative mind as Kane, but on his day, there aren’t many more lethal strikers in the world.
For Chelsea, Pochettino helping Lukaku rediscover his form is definitely a cheaper alternative to signing £100m-rated Kane, or even Benfica star Goncalo Ramos.
And if Inter Milan decide against taking up the option to sign him permanently, it could be a case of third time lucky for Lukaku in west London.
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