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Is 17-year-old Romelu Lukaku the real deal?

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Jonathan Stevenson | 06:40 UK time, Wednesday, 22 December 2010

On Thursday, with cameras flashing in his face and a country's sporting press hanging from his every word, one of the most exceptional young footballers in the world will offer a very rare glimpse into his off-field personality.

At a news conference arranged by Belgian champions Anderlecht, their 17-year-old striker Romelu Lukaku will sit alongside the club's manager Ariel Jacobs and answer questions from the assembled media throng.

Having spent the best part of two years being the subject of all kinds of transfer speculation which has seen his name linked with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea almost on a daily basis, it is a chance finally for the teenager to do some talking of his own.

But just who is Romelu Lukaku? It is a safe bet that if you support one of Europe's biggest clubs, your team has been linked with his signature. That's not too surprising when you consider that this prodigious, precociously prolific goal-getter has set football in his homeland alight and fired warning shots of his talismanic talent around the world despite his tender age.

I'll level with you straight away - until a recent trip to Athens, where I saw him play for Anderlecht against AEK in the Europa League, I didn't know too much either (apart from the fact that his name provides a regular mention in our gossip column, where his physical similarities to the Chelsea striker often earn him the nickname 'the new Didier Drogba').

Suffice to say I'm glad I interrupted a non-football-based break to go along to a sparsely-populated Olympic Stadium and watch Lukaku in action in an otherwise entirely unremarkable Group G contest that ended 1-1.

I wanted to find out what all the fuss was about; I'd have liked longer, but it came down to 90 minutes to try to decide whether this young man was worth some of the hype he has attracted, or whether he is destined to be another footballer talked up to the extent that his actual ability could never match the ideal we have been sold.

The first thing that struck me was that Lukaku is a physical phenomenon. When he emerged from the tunnel, last in the Anderlecht line, I was genuinely taken aback by how a 17-year-old could be so developed. His upper body resembles that of a heavyweight boxer - something he underlined when he took his shirt off after the final whistle.

Lukaku is no normal 17-year-old and he's not a normal striker either. The 6ft 4in hitman is blessed with such fearsome attributes he can do everything a teenager shouldn't be able to - outmuscle defenders, win almost every aerial challenge and bring his team-mates into play. He was being asked by Anderlecht to play the lone striker's role of a man 10 years his senior, and though he battled away heroically, I couldn't help but feel something wasn't quite right.

My instincts were supported later by a couple of conversations with Belgian journalists about their country's new Wunderkind. Lukaku, they argued, is a rare talent, but he is not getting better at Anderlecht because they don't play in such a way as to improve his technical skills.

By firing long balls over Lukaku's head and using his pace and power to frighten opponents, Anderlecht are able to win the majority of their Belgian league games and some in the Europa League too. But his raw talent, like any 17-year-old, requires fine-tuning, and some believe he will only get that help when he moves to a bigger club.

Lukaku's physical attributes have seen him compared to Didier Drogba. Pic: Getty Images.

Lukaku's physical attributes have seen him compared to Didier Drogba. Pic: Getty Images.

Lukaku, who still goes to school, may already be a victim of his own success. Last season he burst on to the scene at Anderlecht and finished the campaign as top scorer in the country with 15 goals as the Purple and Whites won the league by a mile ahead of Gent. The boy who played like a chiselled veteran was still only 16 years of age.

Nevertheless, he quickly became the fulcrum of Jacobs's side. Against Athens I watched him fight a brutal battle with the Greek side's central defenders Kostas Manolas and Cristian Nasuti, sometimes tussling for possession without a team-mate within 40 yards. He took kick after kick without ever once complaining and improved as the game went on, hitting the post and firing inches over in the closing stages as he fruitlessly sought a winner.

Yannick Ferrera, a former Anderlecht youth coach who has known Lukaku since he was 13 and used to give his protégé individually-tailored sessions, says it is the young man's attitude as well as his stature which helps to set him apart from his peers.

"Romelu has good people around him and a very good temperament," Ferrera told me. "He knows what he wants - it is to become one of the best strikers in the world and to play at the very highest level.

"Already, even at such a young age, Romelu can have all the cheques he wants, all the clothes he wants. He can have everything, that's not a problem for him. But now he wants to become a great footballer and that's good because it comes from his head.

"Even when I met him four years ago he was a leader of his team. He was obviously the strongest and the biggest in his age group but he always led by example and he always wanted to learn, something which is still the case today.

"I get more excited by him every time I see him play. I remember the first time he played with the first team - I felt real pride because I'd helped him to get there. I was really happy for him because he deserved it, he worked so hard. He's not a guy who thinks he's the best and doesn't have to try. He wants to work hard to get even better every single day."

Named Romelu after his father, Ro-ger Me-nama Lu-kaku, it is the striker's close relationship with his dad, himself a former professional footballer who played for several Belgian sides, that has been credited with keeping his feet firmly on the floor in the face of such early acclaim for his ability.

Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, a confirmed Lukaku admirer, has even praised his father's influence. "It is true we wanted Romelu, but he has a very clever dad," said the shrewd Mourinho in an interview in October. "He wants Romelu to stay at Anderlecht for one more year. I wish all dads were like this."

Whoever you speak to, they have only praise for Lukaku, both as a person and a player. "He is simply brilliant, as a human being and as a footballer," his Anderlecht and Belgium team-mate Silvio Proto told me.

Lukaku will leave Anderlecht one day and a great career lies in store, but in his homeland, they are hoping he can spearhead the Belgium attack for the next 15 years. It is a national team which appears to be entering a brave new world, with the likes of Eden Hazard, Steven Defour, Thomas Vermaelen, Vincent Kompany, Axel Witsel and Marouane Fellaini all establishing themselves on the international stage at the same time.

Proto, who is his country's resident number one goalkeeper, is excited about what the future holds. "It is very important we reach a major championship, because the 2002 World Cup was the last time and that is too long ago," he said. "At this moment, Belgium have a good generation of football players and we are working very hard to form a solid national team.

"Smaller countries like Belgium are finally investing in the education of professional football players. Before, Belgian clubs bought foreign players. But there is no money now and that is why, especially at Anderlecht, the club is investing in the youth academy. Lukaku is the first player to emerge from that system, but others will follow."

Follow, they surely will. In the Anderlecht youth team, there is another youngster creating waves with his mature performances, with some speculating that the 16-year-old will make his debut for the club's first team before the end of the season.

His name? Jordan Lukaku, Romelu's little brother.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    He's been brilliant on football manager too for a couple of years, so he must be good! ;-)

  • Comment number 2.

    All we ever hear about is the new zidane, maradona etc. People need to remember there are many many factors that can effect a young player and his development into a top player. Hunger / attitude, injuries, quality of training etc etc. Very very few of the next big things actually ever make it.

    The one's that stand out for me are Freddy Adu, Kerlon, D'Alessandro, Liverpool player Le Tallec was it, or the other they signed?

    Point being we shouldn't hype up these youngsters until they actually are what they have the POTENTIAL to be.

  • Comment number 3.

    The first thing that struck me was that Lukaku is a physical phenomenon.
    ---------------

    Which is exactly the reason we should temper our enthusiasm. Ignore the age and he is already a very good physically gifted striker in what is a very average-poor league. Unlike most 17 year olds he is more or less fully physically matured already he will not get stronger in that sense. It may well be that he is already near the peak of his abilities (though obviously experiene will make him a better player as well).

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.


    SimplyZola

    He's born and bred in Antwerp, Belgium, so no chance of an age fraud.
    He's a raw diamond, needs to stay in Anderlecht for 2 or 3 years, then we'll see.

  • Comment number 6.

    Almost everything I've just read in that report we've all heard before, so you'll have to forgive me if I curb my enthusiasm. 15 or so years ago a teenage Englishman broke into the Leicester City ranks as a prodigious talent. Built like the proverbial brick outhouse, defenders bounced off him, he had a fierce shot, decent skill, good pace and everything looked right to set the world on fire. His name?

    Emile Heskey.

    Don't get me wrong, a decent player who has had a good career. He never really developed from that initial talent though.

  • Comment number 7.

    It seems commenting on an article is not allowed by the BBC. Anyways my point was, as charleroidude states, he is still young and raw. The same can be applied for Balotelli. Lukaku needs to be developed by his current club where the fans will give him time.I mean if I use my own club, Chelsea, as an example Ramires has just joined us yet fans are already getting on to his back. Lukuaku should take a look at Javier Pastore, Palermo have given him a lot of time to develop and so have their fans. It will all be worth it in the end.

  • Comment number 8.

    Greavesy

    I appreciate your point, but Lukaku has already achieved far more than Adu, Kerlon et al. Sure, he's playing in a weak league, and he won't be truly tested until he experiences the Prem/La Liga/Serie A, but to be a top scorer at the age of 16 in any League is no mean feat. If Mourinho is a fan, you've got to think he must have something.

    I should post a word of warning, though. Football Manager can lead you down the garden path sometimes. I could hardly contain my excitement when Wilfriend Bouma and Julius Aghahowa came onto the scene. They were both part of my treble-winning United team circa '05. The real star of the team was a little-known Danish wonderkid called Mads Timm, though. And what of him now? Retired, at the tender age of 25

  • Comment number 9.

    Would love to see him move to the Premier League, preferably to my club (Man City). We already have a Belgian contingent in the first team squad in Kompany and Boyata, and by coming here he would get the chance to develop without the pressure of being an instant first team player.
    Also, as a 17 year old, by the age of 21 he would qualify as a home-grown player in the new regulations, an important factor for Premier league teams nowadays.
    The only concern is that, although a phenomenal talent at 17, there is no guarantee he will be a hit outside of the Belgian league, or indeed that he will improve from the standard he is already at.

  • Comment number 10.

    I really hope he can become a star. The talent's there but as someone else said he might take the Emile Heskey road. It's true we have a few good players in the making but when they play for the Belgian shirt they too often don't produce the goods. We are capable of great matches (like when we should have beaten Spain if it wasn't for the ref in the last qualifiers) but then we go on and lose to Estonia or teams like that. I'm starting to think I'll never see my national team in a major competition ever again :(

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    His 2 goals for Belgium in 8 games - both coming in a friendly against Russia in Nov is hardly prolific record to warrant his 'arrival' at the top level and as you say he has yet been tested in a top league. The potential is there certainly - like so many other youngsters that get touted about but the transfer fees mentioned in some sections of the media are way too high as per usual. As others have mentioned 'being fully developed physically' at 17 isn't a guarantee of anything - he could end up being stereotyped as another 'big' front man to hump the ball up to like Heskey or he could be the new Drogba...but only time will tell and his choice of new club will be very important.

  • Comment number 13.

    AssouEkottosAfro

    There's plenty of failed 17 year olds - remember Nii Lamptey, who also started out in Belgian football and is perhaps the most worrying potential precedent for Lukaku.

    But then again, Pele, Raul, Michael Owen, Samuel Eto'o and Nicolas Anelka were all super-hyped at 17 too, and they didn't do too badly! I do believe Belgium is on the brink of a really excellent generation of talent taking them back to the heights of the 1980s - but I also Lukaku needs to leave Belgium quickly to progress. It's all very well saying he's young and its better to learn in a smaller league - that's rubbish - the biggest clubs have the best coaches, facilities and toughest challenges. If you're going to make it, you need to be facing the ultimate challenges by 18, like Messi, Ronaldo, Rooney etc. By 20 the chance has often been missed.

  • Comment number 14.

    Not sure what happened to Freddy Adu. Our club just loaned him out to so many teams, I'm surprised none wanted to keep him. Was it his high wages that didn't correspond to any of the clubs' expectations? Or maybe Twitter ruined him...

    He is still young, but someone needs to take a chance with him soon, otherwise it could be too late.

  • Comment number 15.

    It won't be long untill clubs like Chelsea, Barca, Inter or Bayern will try and buy a talent like this.

    This has been happening for years in the Netherlands.
    Our talents are trained here, clubs invest in these talents but they never get something in return.

    15 year old Nathan Ake for instance. He got his training/education at Feyenoord Rotterdam. Now "Chelski" 'napped him.
    Chances are he will be put on the bench, not playing at all.

    Very dissapointing...

  • Comment number 16.

    One thing i've noticed is that, its about the coaching of the raw talent. We've heard stories like this before but its the ones who were nurtured and developed that made the grade (+didn't buy into their own hype).

    Messi is the last one i can remember, who has been brought along correctly. But the best example i can think of in recent times (well maybe 2 - if u bung in a young p.viera) is the case of T. Henry. Before arsenal, he had all the attributes, but was not doing well at milan. Then along comes Arsene and over a few seasons he became a world beater.

    Simple analogy, just because u've got a ferrari doesn't mean u'll get the fastest lap time, its about the driver and the team behind it.

  • Comment number 17.

    As for scoring so many goals are people forgetting he's in the (by far and away) best team in the BELGIUM league??
    An equal comparison would be Newcastle and Andy Carroll in the championship last year. They are both talented and very useful players but never going to set football on fire.

    Carroll is currently making the step up, (played 17, 10 goals, 3 assists) so it will be interesting if RL can do the same.

    He needs a club like Arsenal or Man Utd that will nuture him and give him regular opportunities to play. I'd hate to see him go Man City 'cuse they will ruin him.

  • Comment number 18.

    There's been a lot of comments made saying not to get too carried away and he's not proven yet etc etc but did any of you read the article properly? Jonathan points out that the one thing Romelu is lacking a little is the technical side of his game and that's something that can surely be improved by playing in a higher standard of league and with better coaching not to mention more experience.

    I think the key thing is that as mentioned in the article this kid has the right attitude and is hungry. By the sounds of it his main goal is to become a great footballer and you can't teach that sort of thing it has to come from within. I do hope this guy really is the new Drogba as he would be a joy to watch if/when he comes over to the Premier league (even better if it's at Liverpool too ha ha)

  • Comment number 19.

    How on earth is this kid only 17, he looks more like 27. He needs regular first-team football to develop his progress therefore staying where at Anderlecht is the best option for at least another 2 years.
    He seems to also have a head on his shoulders not an empty space. Certainly can become a powerful world-class striker in 3/4 years time.

  • Comment number 20.

    Dave Stewart

    I appreciate he has done very well where he is at the moment. But as others have pointed out, and you have yourself to some extent the prem/la liga/seria a, are big step ups from where he is now. I'm just pointing out that most of the 'next big things' never actually materialise even if they have done well elsewhere / in lower leagues.

    Ductchcheese

    I was going to mention Nathan Ake myself, some on here are arguing that the young players should stay and be nurtured by their clubs and others have pointed out surely it would be better to go to a big club where they are playing with better players and working with better coaches etc. I think its down to the individual to be honest, I dont think there is a right or wrong way round. I would suggest if they are adamant on a big move then it not be to a potential champions league winning team such as Chelsea as they are not going to get many first team opportunities and when they do they had better take it as they wont get many chances. Who was the last person they brought through the ranks, or really developed? Real Madrid is another, I hate it when I see all these top players going their doing nothing for several seasons and then going away showing they are a class act. Robben, VDV, Sneijder etc. This shows these teams buy players who are already developed and yet still dont make it for whatever reason.

  • Comment number 21.

    @16 Henry was at Juventus and Vieira was at Milan! Henry would always struggle in Serie A as the pace and style of the game differs so much to the Premier League. The Premier League style of football suited Henry's raw attributes. Vieira was a reserve at one of the strongest squads in Europe so moving to Arsenal was a no-brainer.

    Good luck to Lukaku hopefully he will have the sense to remain in Belgium for a few more years rather than move to a huge team and maybe get lost in the mix.

  • Comment number 22.

    "Lukaku, they argued, is a rare talent, but he is not getting better at Anderlecht because they don't play in such a way as to improve his technical skills"

    I hope somebody is advising him against a move to the Premier League then.

  • Comment number 23.

    No Name SLB: Adu is the perfect case of hype. He got it purely through signing a pro contract at 14 and not talent... Still only 21, he has never actually scored more than 5 in a season.

  • Comment number 24.

    good points in #18 and #19 - he seems like he's got his head screwed on, and has good people around him. doesn't believe his hype like self-obsessed, egotistical players e.g. Nani, Bendtner, Ballotelli

  • Comment number 25.

    Dave Stewart:

    Mads Tim was awesome!

    Sorry but this blog is a bit of a non-starter for me. It's all based on hype and the author seeing him play one game???





  • Comment number 26.

    Also, that Belgian national team looks excellent - what potential they have!

  • Comment number 27.

    FortyEightK

    'Built like the proverbial brick outhouse, defenders bounced off him, he had a fierce shot, decent skill, good pace and everything looked right to set the world on fire.'

    Who said this? - not the same people (his own fans) who nicknamed him 'Bruno' due to his uncanny knack of falling over when tickled by a feather.

    Having seen Lukaku play on several occasions (due to my misses father being Belgian and supporting Anderlecht) I would have to agree with the comments in this article. He is a very raw talent and is an imposing physical specimen. With the correct mentoring and coaching he will be a force to be reckoned with in world football. Due to his battering-ram like physique I would expect him to be at his best in the Premier league but may fair quite well at Real Madrid if Mourinho is still there as he will get the team to play to his strengths.

  • Comment number 28.

    As a local who can follow his exploits week in week out i have a couple of observations to share: 1 Lukaku is not a goal scoring machine (15 goals in 30 games in a mediocre league is by no means world beating stuff), but he tends to deliver when it matters, also in Europe (He scared the hell out of the defences of f.i. Athletic Bilbao & Hamburg in the latter stages of last year's Europa League); 2 the guy is extremely level headed and mature beyond his years and although his dream club is Chelsea, he will settle for less if he will get more playing time.
    And here comes the real dilemma: Anderlecht consider him to be their cash cow and won't let him go for less than 15-20 Mio £, which almost excludes the move to a suitable, sub top team of a stronger league abroath (Aston Villa, Spurs, HSV, Schalke, Atletico,...) where he would get playing time and a chance of further development. If he ends up in a real topclub, he will need a coach who fully believes in him and patience of the fans, which i'm not sure he will be given...
    Wait and see, but i have my doubts...

  • Comment number 29.

    Typical English negativity that i keep reading

    Yes he could go on to be average and all this hype might be for nothing but all I know is that for all the talk of him being in a poor league it means that English fans miss the bigger picture.

    He is 17 and playing first team football, giving himself every opportunity to develop in to a top player, its up to him and his people how good he can become depending on the decisions they maek . . . ie does he want to join a massive club so soon and sit on the bench and rot

    I cant think of one young English striker who is coming through at the moment at that age and is playing regularly, this means that our kids wil not get an opportunity like they do in Holland, Belgium, France, Spain etc . . . . .

    Give him time, I saw him play a few times and he is a gifted player and his next move is pivotal . . . . he is nothing like Heskey, he is ten times better than what heskey ever was.

  • Comment number 30.

    He would need to go to a club which has a track record for nurturing such talent and bring the best out of a talent like this.

    OT it is is then.

  • Comment number 31.

    Nice one Jonathan, very refreshing to wake up to your pleasant article and whether Romelu Lukaku makes it to the very top or not I’m sure at the moment he’s quite content to be where he is. To have advanced to senior level at such a tender age is already a major achievement and it seems he acknowledges that himself as living the schoolboy dream. Sincerely wish him well and hope when he does make a move to a major European club that a genuinely caring coach like Mourhino takes him under his wing.

    I too have been lucky enough to closely observe an extremely talented young man in Sweden by the name of Alex Nilsson progress up the ranks since he was 14 years old and playing for a local Malmo team. I was also coaching his school team when he completely dazzled me with his natural technical ability, speed and agility. It’s very rare to see a mature football thinking mind on such young shoulders, so I put pen to paper and like to think that I helped him to his present club which I’m sure most of you recognize as Malmo FF, European Cup runners up to Nottingham Forest in 1979. Alex signed a five year contract in 2007 and is now doing remarkably well in the capable hands of ex Sheffield Wednesday playmaker Roland Nilsson (no they’re not related) who’s just won his first crown as Sweden’s champion coach. Alex made his first full debut this season as a 17 year old and scored both goals in a 2-1 victory, outshining one of Man City’s new signings John Guidetti in the process and contributing three points to help Malmo FF win the Swedish league.

    Since I left Sweden four months ago after having lived there for 20 years, I can now reflect on how very satisfying it feels to have met this pleasant down to earth boy and watch him mature into an extremely determined young man. I feel proud to know him and very happy to receive an occasional text message too. One of Alex Nilsson’s best friends and ex strike partner Marco Mitrovich is presently excelling in Chelsea’s youth team and I wouldn’t be surprised to see these two link up again in the future even at senior international level.

  • Comment number 32.

    @Dave Stewart!

    On the subject of Football Manager, which often does reveal good young players. I bought Lukaku on FIFA 11 and he hasn't gone up 1 point in my Norwich team, even Simeon Jackson's on par with him now!

    Back to reality... He should be a good player, got all the attributes to set the premiership alight!

  • Comment number 33.

    he may play in belgium but moving to the premiership would not enhance his technical ability. The premiership would play on his strength and make him one dimensional. he should go to Holland or Spain to get the best out of him as a footballer, and then maybe to the prem in 5 or 6 years.

  • Comment number 34.

    @ #20 greavesy - Don't think that comment is really fair on "Chelski" seeing as MacEachrane, Kakuta, van Aanholt, Bruma, and Borini have all come through the youth & reserve set-up, and featured in PL games as well as cup competitions. As have Scott Sinclair and Franco di Santo (no longer with us). Chelsea have spent a lot of money on getting the Cobham facility up and running and developing a professional youth academy, not to mention that Sky show to find the next big talent...and it's slowly paying dividends. Carlo has supported this and we are starting to blood youngsters. Think this is a seismic shift for British football and can only help make clubs more financially stable - not just the best ready-bought talent, they're often looking closer to home. What happens when Drogba/Lampard/Terry et al all retire in a couple of years? Hopefully we'll have young, keen players both willing and able to make the step up.
    I'm keen on seeing if Lukaku is the real deal and "the next Drogba", or is just a simple case of agents and media talking him up à la Joorabchian. He's in a league that can hardly be classed as competitive as the PL, La Liga, Serie A etc. He needs a team that will properly support his development and his playing style, surrounded by top class players to learn from, and he can get that with us Blues (as a long-term Drogba replacement) or Arsenal (who, as much as it pains me to say it, have always championed young talent and given them an opportunity, and could use some more power up front).

  • Comment number 35.

    The most sensible thing he could do is move across to Germany and play for one of Dortmund, Schalke or maybe Hamburg. Bayern would be a bad choice as that club has way too much drama attached to it 24/7.

    There he will be able to keep a low profile but play at a decent level and champions league football too. Then if he is good enough he will get his big move.

  • Comment number 36.

    Agree with 35.

    people forget that the likes of Drogba did not make it big in the game until he was 24 or around taht age.

    Even Zidane was relatively unknown until about 23 or 24

  • Comment number 37.

    "Sorry but this blog is a bit of a non-starter for me. It's all based on hype and the author seeing him play one game???"

    I don't agree with this, Romelu's name has been doing the rounds for a little while now and this guy has all the attributes and potential to become a very good if not great player so surely that's worth some debate? Sure this might all turn out to be a lot of hot air and false dawns but I'm sure there were a few articles written about Messi, Henry, Owen and Rooney when they were looking to be good prospects and look how they turned out.

    Something else I'd like to add is that as much as I'm a life long Liverpool fan I personally think that if Romelu were to come over here the best places for him to go would be Arsenal or Man Utd (as long as Fergie ir in charge or Moyes takes over). Arsenal in particular as Wenger would no doubt do a lot of work on his technique and get him to a new level that most other coaches might not be able to do. That said knowing my luck this will happen and then Arsenal will destroy us 8-0 with Romelu scoring five :-(

  • Comment number 38.

    34. At 11:06am on 22 Dec 2010, jellywobble wrote:

    -----

    Of the players you mentioned there only McEachran came through your youth set up, all the others were signed at 17 or 18. They have played bit part roles and I would suggest their long term developement would have been better served at their respective clubs. The few you mentioned apart from Borini came from Dutch clubs who dont have a bad reputation for bringing on young players as it is.

  • Comment number 39.

    He would need to go to a club which has a track record for nurturing such talent and bring the best out of a talent like this.

    OT it is is then.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------

    Quite how a move to Old Tonbridgians is going to help his career is lost on me.

  • Comment number 40.

    I couldn't agree more with 32. Terrible amount of growth!

  • Comment number 41.

    Even if the lad waits it out for 3/4 years he'll still only be 20/21. I think this story is going to go on for a very long time.

    Atm, reports suggest he is constant contact with Drogba so Chelsea look likely when the time comes for him to move.
    Altho Real Madrid brown nosing might help swing things to Spain.

    The lad seems to have a good head on him so Im sure he'll coose the prospect of becoming great over a slightly larger paypacket.

  • Comment number 42.

    He's clearly not 17.

  • Comment number 43.

    I've seen some youtube videos; the guy has potential but there is no point reaching goal and blasting the ball over bar or kicking it straight at the keeper; he seriously need to work on his finishing

  • Comment number 44.

    Thanks for all the comments, looks like he's been on your radars for a bit longer than he has been on mine...

    Anyway, a few replies:

    FortyEightK - That's a really good point. It seems silly now to make the comparison, but I remember thinking Heskey could be a world-beater too. Guess that's why Lukaku's next move could decide how successful a career he has, and why he and his dad are right to delay it until they are absolutely sure.

    JamTay1 - I think normally you'd be right. He'd be better off staying at Anderlecht, playing every game and developing his skills away from the super-intense limelight of a massive club in the Champions League. But the people I spoke to seem to think he's already outgrown Anderlecht, that he can't learn too much more by staying there. Maybe it's a little like Rooney at Everton - he needed to be at a massive club to make that step up to world-class?

    DoctorHou - You fair brought a tear to my eye with that message. Needless to say, I'll definitely be looking out for Alex Nilsson from now on.

    Loving the chat on Cherno Samba/Mads Timm etc, too. No mention for my personal favourite Justin Georcelin yet, though... Having said that, one of the first stellar Champ Manager players I had who I'd never heard of was Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Whatever happened to him?

  • Comment number 45.

    Stevo.. funny you mentioned Georcelin, I was just thinking about him:

    http://cmacd.wordpress.com/2010/09/20/championship-manager-heroes-episode-2-justin-georcelin/

    Good Luck to Lukaku..

  • Comment number 46.

    Could well be the new Emile Mpenza. Will start off well and then slowly turn into a journeyman striker after a few off the field incidents.

    Tbh, I think if the kid can stay clear of injuries, he has a bright future ahead of him. Hopefully he stays in Belgium for a few seasons and moves once he has finished actually growing up.

  • Comment number 47.

    "I've seen some youtube videos; the guy has potential but there is no point reaching goal and blasting the ball over bar or kicking it straight at the keeper; he seriously need to work on his finishing"

    Bit harsh to critisize him on that I think. You seem to forget he is still only 17! The guy is battling with defenders a good five or more years older (and experienced) than him so just getting there to get a chance to shot deserves credit. His composure and finess will (or should) come along with more experience and better coaching which he should get.

  • Comment number 48.

    Lets try and forget he is 17 for a minute. If I saw this boy with all his attributes, I would want him in my team. I think every team would, barring Barcelona only because he might not suit their style. He looks more menacing than any striker who comes to mind. I dont think even one person who has made a comment can honestly disagree with this. These are the facts.
    Seriously, this boy has premiership quality written all over him. He is good enough to play in it today, at 17.
    Now lets bring his age in to play, and suddenly we have question marks, which is fair.
    The answer to the question marks is the environment he is allowed to develop in. Take Arsenal with Arsene Wenger and he might actually become better than his hype. Take Real Madrid with Jose Mourinho and he may be forgotten in a couple of years,(Nicolas Anelka in the past, and maybe Karim Benzema today are good examples of this).
    Right now Anderlecht is a safe place for him, and he could achieve at a high level with them. They are the Manchester United of Belgium and are more often than not in the champions league. He can become a legend in Belgium just by staying put and maintain what he is already doing.

    But to be the best you have to play against the best, and a 17 year old with this ambition you have to admire.

    So, is he the real deal? Looking at the fact today, YES, and i'll be backed by every top manager and football expert. Lets wish and hope the best for him, and leave the hating for him until he is playing against our teams.

    On a side note, I was not having a swipe at Mourinho, but I cant think of him even developing one young player, and by his own admission, would rather have veterans like Didier Drogba if he went to war. This can be further illustrated by his management time at Inter where he chose to send out on loan Philippe Coutinho and Jonathan Biabiany, two plays I think are awesome and are the future alongst with Lukaku. Even Mourinhos' handling of Mario Balotelli and preference over him with veteran Diego Milito furthers my point. But respect and credit because it did all work him. But we all know Mourinho likes working with the cream rather than working with it to rise to the top.


  • Comment number 49.

    I think he should come and sign for a local non-league club based in Sutton Coldfield, called Romulus. Just cos of his name like.

  • Comment number 50.

    Rooney was a similarly physical build when he came onto the scene at 16. A boy with the build of a man. I suspect the solution will be one of the top premiership teams coming in, trying him out for a few games for the first season, and if he's not ready loan him out to a weaker premiership team to gain the experience gained from regular games at the top level. Its how United have worked with their youngsters and it generally works if the loan team has a good manager. Its been a great path for Welbeck this season. Of course the challenge is when they return, that they can force themselves into the team.

  • Comment number 51.

    So, is he the real deal? Looking at the fact today, YES, and i'll be backed by every top manager and football expert. Lets wish and hope the best for him, and leave the hating for him until he is playing against our teams.

    -----

    No one is hating here but a degree of skepticism must be expected considered the 24/7 media world we live in. What facts prove he is going to be top quality for years to come? The truth is there are none just speculation over a prodigious talent and a goal per game ratio of 1:2 in a sub standard division.

    There have been more fell by the wayside after being proclaimed their nations next great player than gone on to half the achievments they were first expected to attain. There are countless cases of this in South America. These are the only facts you should be reading into. A player at 17 and a player at 25 are two totally different things.

  • Comment number 52.

    The thing to do if Chelsea or Man Utd were to get him would be to sign him and put him out on loan to a smaller Prem team (Bolton, Blackpool, West Brom etc) so he could climatize to the league and it's style. Inevitably it would take him a while to settle in (remember Tevez at West Ham) but it would ultimately shape him into a player that has a realistic chance of nailing down a starting spot at Chelsea or Man Utd.

  • Comment number 53.

    I've got good upper body strength, can do countless kick ups, flick the ball up behind my head and catch it on the back of my neck. I also have a pretty tidy left foot. Alright I'm 33 but was I hailed the next big thing back in 1994? Was I heckers like.

  • Comment number 54.

    My old Belgian housemate assured me that their national side will win a major tournament by 2018. They've got a useful looking crop of young players who could make that happen.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmRn5SoSNwA&feature=related

    [To the tune of Agadoo by Black Lace]

    Lu... Ka... Ku-Ku-Ku, he's as strong as me and you,
    Lukaku-ku-ku, he's no red and he's no blue,
    With his left, with his right, he scores goals from every side,
    He's got balls, he's polite, and he's Brussels dynamite!

  • Comment number 55.

    While you can never be sure that a 17 year old will fully realise their potential, I believe that having the right parental backing and the right attitude are crucial for this development to reach fruition. Given that this seems to be in place, according to reports, then that has to be a good guide as to how far he will go from here. However, being world beating at that age is far from being world beating 5 years on but he should reach a high standard.

    If they want to spend the funds on a raw talent, I imagine Arsenal or Manchester United would be ideal destinations for him. The likely transfer fee probably rules out any league apart from La Liga and the Premiership - possibly even Serie A. Barca would also work out for him if they have the money to spend. I think the lack of managerial stability at Chelsea and Real Madrid would be a negative if he transfers as hinted at 18.

  • Comment number 56.

    Firstly this is a good article and I enjoyed reading it, I think the standard of Belgian football has been rising steadily recently and Lukaku is the first striker to have appeared recently so is the play who will be looked at first, sometimes taking away from the fact that there are some other very good players in Belgium, Dufour and Witsel are very good examples who might not have been noticed as much because of where they play.

    I live in Belgium and have played in the youth leagues around Brussels. I can't be sure but I think I might have played against Lukaku when my team came up against on f the Anderlect youth teams, this was 3 or 4 years ago now, and he was to put it simply massive, the kind of player at that level you just try and avoid, unsurprisingly we got pounded 9-0 or something like that. He wasn't all that technically gifted though and did seem to be all about pace and power.
    Sadly though I'm not sure he really is 17, I've come up against players in my age group who are clearly too old to be playing in it and it wouldn't surprise me hugely if he is a little older than he claims. Despite this he is a very good young player with a very bright future.

  • Comment number 57.

    @53 - Andrew wrote:
    I've got good upper body strength, can do countless kick ups, flick the ball up behind my head and catch it on the back of my neck. I also have a pretty tidy left foot. Alright I'm 33 but was I hailed the next big thing back in 1994? Was I heckers like.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yeah but you're almost certainly not very quick, and probably a bit fat too.

  • Comment number 58.

    In response to ...
    34. At 11:06am on 22 Dec 2010, jellywobble wrote:

    I seem to remmeber Chelsea poached Kakuta and were hit with a transfer ban? So he did not exactly come through the youth ranks. If a team picked up this lad now then they too could claim he had 'come through the ranks', which i think is the point.

  • Comment number 59.


    Fine blog. Lukaku is a huge talent. I saw him in action in the Jupiler League a few times. He is full of energy, enthusiasm and an eye for goal bound moves. At his present club he gets opportunities to shine. But the big clubs of Europe are known to keep newcomers and youngsters on the bench for a while. Let's wish the teenager a bright future in his play, studies and in life.


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 60.

    'Built like the proverbial brick outhouse, defenders bounced off him, he had a fierce shot, decent skill, good pace and everything looked right to set the world on fire.'
    Who said this? - not the same people (his own fans) who nicknamed him 'Bruno' due to his uncanny knack of falling over when tickled by a feather.

    Please don't be so insulting to Frank Bruno. Bruno had one of
    the most solid chins around, his problem was that he was too brave for his own good. When he got tagged he would stay on his feet and take tremendous punishment rather than taking an 8 count. Exact oppossite to Heskey.

  • Comment number 61.

    yes he is , and maybe Belgium with so many top class players at top clubs around Europe will help the national team regain the statue the had 20 years ago , My only worry for Lukaku is a move to a real madrid or a chelsea will only see him grow bored as bit part player ,so i think maybe an ajax would be best for him but sadly the days of ajax competing with real madrid or chelsea or man city are a long gone , so maybe he stays in Belgium and looks at move away in 2-3 years

  • Comment number 62.

    I cant believe Heskey is taking such abuse.... He has more appearences and caps than most. He has been Premier League for a decade.

    If this kid achieves what Emile has then he will have done very well for himself.

    Though as a target man he will never get the same respect that a Messi does. Thats life though.

  • Comment number 63.

    60. At 2:34pm on 22 Dec 2010, greenmarkfo wrote:
    'Built like the proverbial brick outhouse, defenders bounced off him, he had a fierce shot, decent skill, good pace and everything looked right to set the world on fire.'
    Who said this? - not the same people (his own fans) who nicknamed him 'Bruno' due to his uncanny knack of falling over when tickled by a feather.

    Please don't be so insulting to Frank Bruno. Bruno had one of
    the most solid chins around, his problem was that he was too brave for his own good. When he got tagged he would stay on his feet and take tremendous punishment rather than taking an 8 count. Exact oppossite to Heskey.
    ----------------------------------------

    I agree, nobody could say that Bruno ever went down easy. Bruno's problem was that he was never quite good enough to beat the very best. Similar perhaps to Henman and Murray in tennis, the English football team, Colin Montgomery, Lee Westwood in golf etc etc

  • Comment number 64.

    Like I said elsewhere on 606, he needs to go soon. It's an absolute treat to watch him play, he's got the technique that could make his physique practically obsolete. He has everything he needs to be absolute worldclass. Except the team. He has most definitely already outgrown Anderlecht and by extent Belgium.
    The same can be said of also-mentioned Steven Defour, who also desperately needs to step up a league if he wants to improve.
    And two other players definitely worth watching are overly prolific RC Genk striker Jelle Vossen who's the type of player who just needs a ball and a whiff of the goal to score and his best supply source in teenage winger Kevin Debruyne (who I think might actually be better suited to play in a classic number 10 role as his fierce shot could arguably make Scholes's look tame)

    The Belgian league is definitely worth watching as there's a lot of talent currently surfacing that's attracting attention from all over Europe (also worth mentioning are players like AA Gent's pacy winger Yassine El Ghanassy, Sint Truidense's versatile right back Dennis Odoi, FC Brugge's Holding midfielder Vadis Odjidja, Standard Liege's Mehdi Carcela who's attracted interest from Zidane, RC Genk's young goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and of course Sunderland's Simon Mignolet)
    It's also definitely worth mentioning that all of these players are under 23.

  • Comment number 65.

  • Comment number 66.

    "While you can never be sure that a 17 year old will fully realise their potential, I believe that having the right parental backing and the right attitude are crucial for this development to reach fruition. Given that this seems to be in place, according to reports, then that has to be a good guide as to how far he will go from here."

    Spot on.

  • Comment number 67.

    Bruno's problem was that he was never quite good enough to beat the very best.

    ------------------------------------------------

    Or put another way, Bruno's problem was he was around at the same time as Tyson in his prime and that fella was just different gravy.

  • Comment number 68.

    Yes, well done niel-h I see your point.

    But i didn't say anyone was hating, I was implying it to those skeptics who maybe. Like when the next big thing is to join your rival club and you jump on the hate bandwagon, and if your own club then they most definately will be the next Zidane and Henry even though you may end up hating them yourself. Le tallec and Ryan Babel come to mind (liverpool being my team).

    As for the facts, 32 goals in 75 games for Anderlect and a Senior international at 17, not bad. His youth record was phenomenal as well. He is 6.3in, powerful and pacey with an excellent jump. These are factual statistics and attributes that suggest he is the real deal today, and naturally but not factually you can see this true at 25. Talented footballers at a young age become world beaters. I've never known of any players who were said to be rubbish when young and became world beaters, thats natural and I hope a fact.
    I'm a firm believer that talent is ruined in the wrong hands and environment. Its the way of the world. You have some people who help you become the best and others who want you to help them become the best. You dont get to play like a Brazilian if you play and learn your football in England, although vice versa Lucas does throw a spanner in the works to that theory, but I think your getting the point.

    My facts, excellent at 17 + right club and manager + right life style = excellent at 25.
    But I also think, excellent today = excellent for a top club today, and I really am putting my balls on the line here.
    Why talk about 25 when owen, rooney, messi and anelka were doing an excellent job between the ages of 16-19 at top top clubs at the highest level. The careers of two of which were almost ruined all together by Real Madrid.
    And just one thing to point out about the 24/7 media world we live in, i'm completely with you on that. If your judgement is based on what the media is telling you then there must be room for skepticism. But i'd rather base my judgement from the opinions of football experts and to a much much less degree an eye of my own.

    As for the countless examples from South America, players are only blanked out once they come over to one of the top counties in Europe and fail. The serious truth of that matter is that clubs in South America actually try their best for their players by hyping them up so they can get the moves to big clubs in Europe in the first place. Get them off to better shores, which i think is honourable.
    But Europe is clueing on, so thats why you have players such as Messi, Robinho, Pato, tevez, Aguero even Kaka all breaking to the top in their teens. Its all about scouting, good scouting at an early age rather than believing the hype of media which is mostly the case of all the failures.

    You seem an intelligent guy so I think you'll see my point, rather than the floors in making my arguament, including my love for Mourinho,
    take care and all the best.

  • Comment number 69.

    #29 Realisticrichard

    I cant think of one young English striker who is coming through at the moment at that age and is playing regularly......


    How about Danny Welbeck?

  • Comment number 70.

    I would be very surprised if Lukaku made it at one of the big european clubs.

    Yes at 17 what he has achieved already is something to be proud of, but he strikes me as being a player that has peaked before his peers and i don't see him improving much on the player he already is.

    People are quick to assume that any youngster who appears to be something special will keep on improving and become world class. However it doesn't work like that and every player is different.

    Some players peak early in their career and never get any better and are quickly forgotten, where as some peak later in life.

    This is where i think England lag behind our european neighbours. Our youth coaches pick the bigger, stronger players at a young age as they stand out more. Rather than the smaller players that are technically better but haven't peaked physically yet and will only improve.

    Sorry went slightly off topic there

  • Comment number 71.

    Poor old Cherno Samba, Mark Kerr, Rudy Haddad, Maxim Tsyhalka, Stevie Nicholas, Alexander Farnerud, Alex Pinardi, Callum McHattie etc must wonder what went wrong. Turning into a legend in Champ Manager is big pressure for your real-life career!!

  • Comment number 72.

    to the people moaning about chelsea poaching nathan ake... how do you think feyenoord got him? yes that's right... they poached him from a smaller club three years ago! this is football... get over it! players develop quicker when they are surrounded by better players anyway.

  • Comment number 73.

    i feel that some people are basing their knowledge of this player, purely because they have read this blog, them typed RL's name into FIFA transfer centre or into Football manager, a computer simulated game does not represent how a player is going to turn out in real life. the player is only 17, and although he may successful in the belgian league, to put him into such a hostile and fluctuating league as the premier league could work either way, either he would develop into a magnificent player, as Henry did, or Owen. Or he could crumble at the very start due to the demands of the league. In the premier league nothing is certain unless you are truely great, you are not guranteed to start, and you are not gurantedd to finish. Jack Wilshere at Arsenal, arguably one of the most exciting talents for the England team, is not guaranteed to start every single game,and finish every single game. Yes the Belgian league is lower in class, but to throw the boy into the numbers game of the premier league could potentially be disastrous for him. i would say leave him in the Belgian league until he is around 19/20, then the decision can be made as to whether he is truely great or a temporary hype.

  • Comment number 74.

    If he wants to be a good footballer let him move to either england, spain, italy or german where it is competitive unlike in belgiam. Come to manu anyway.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    why all the hating on football manager? they predicted tevez, mascherano, ibra, walcott, lennon, and loads of others...frankly if i were a real manager id use fm!

  • Comment number 77.

    Everyone critising Lukaku's goalscoring record for his national team, must remember the service he is being given. His national side only have one or two players with real quality. Put Messi in that side he wouldnt score at the rate he does for Barcelona. I would say watch this lad in a few years time he is strong and can finish, I believe its too soon for a big transfer and just hope he stays for another season to progress further.
    I'd love to see him at my club in the future a real talent. Sadly I dont think Liverpool can compete at this moment in time with the likes of the reported interest from Chelsea, Inter and a few other big clubs.

  • Comment number 78.

    Also I saw him play against Austria for the Belgian national team, he wasn't on for long which was strange as I had imagined he'd have started as we haven't had a decent centre forward here in a while... he came on at the same time as Edin Hazard who looked wonderful and made our 3rd or maybe 4th goal I can't remember which, it finished 4-4 with 3 goals in the last ten minutes :p
    Anyway he didn't have all that much of an effect on the game from what I could see as we weren't just lumping it forward to him, so I wonder how much effect will he have when he isn't the focus of all attacking play and having everything pumped up towards him.
    Also another Belgian player who has caught my eye is Jonathan Lagaer the right winger for Anderlect, he had pace and skill on the ball and his marker seemed to have no idea where he was half the time, he looked like an old style winger ready to run at defenders, someone should buy him.

  • Comment number 79.

    I am strong fan of Congolese football. Time for someone in the Congo FA to do an 'Algeria' and convince players of Congolese descent around the world to play for the country of their parents? There is quite a few up and comming - Lukaku, Boyata, M'Villa etc, a few established ones - Chris Samba, Mohammed Tchite, Youssef Mulumbu, Illunga etc, as well as the TPM boys. Congo could be challenging for honors in Africa if they can get things in order.

  • Comment number 80.

    Good player but would he crack it in the Prem? Other belgians like Mpenza were highly rated at s young age but never really reached the heights expected! One young player who has come to the Prem and struggled has been Lucas...but he is starting to turn this around...

    Have a read of 'Love is in the air… Lucas Leiva…'
    http://upper90magazine.wordpress.com/2010/12/13/love-is-in-the-air%E2%80%A6-lucas-leiva%E2%80%A6/

  • Comment number 81.

    I think all talk of him moving to the Premier League is premature, arrogant and ignorant. There would only be one reason to do so... money.

    The Premier League is on a downward spiral and technically inferior to Spain, Germany and Italy.

    I hope he ends up in Germany; a responsibly run, competitive league where he would b developed and get game time.

    I don't know why I expect any more of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United fans. Might as well add Manchester City to the list.

  • Comment number 82.

    15 goals last season? already better than Heskey then.

    hope he goes to a club like arsenal--he'll definitely get a game there. man city--if he goes there his career is as good as over--he'll never play, especially as Mancini seems to prefer playing with 1 striker. They'll buy him for £25million then sell him 3 seasons later for £2million to a club like Hamburg (no disrespect) where he'll fade into nothing.

    go to arsenal and we'll be able to get rid of Bendtner--a gigantic waste of arrogant space.

  • Comment number 83.

    Makelele, Kakuta, Lua Lua, Mpenza, now Lukaku...cry, the children of Congo...Wish him all the best, Lukaku. Belgium is not a spectacular place, Arsenal is too wish-washy, Chelsea too focused on delivering trophies - this kid needs to join United. Soon.

  • Comment number 84.

    I hope for his sake he never signs for Manchester United.

  • Comment number 85.

    Jimmy Jazz, what German club is going to stump up 20 million for an 18 year old?

  • Comment number 86.

    Most of the comments I read here are so typically English and a bit arrogant towards a small league as the Belgian one.

    As a supporter of RSCA I can only confirm what people say about him. He is the real deal. For some players just a simple glimpse is needed, just a few seconds on the ball, on the way he handles it, looks up, finds a mate or scores. With Lukaku, you had that feeling from the first moment. As was the case with Kompany, who - though a setback suffered - is one of the best defenders in the PL right now. I also saw him debute in RSCA'S squad at 17 years old.

    About the comments on quality in the Belgian National Team or the lack of it: I would not mind a friendly, I'm afraid the English will be shown every angle of the ground and English defenders - they'd never know what hit them, when Romelu strikes a few, as he did against Russia twice away in the last 0-2 won game. With Fulham's Dembele and Hazard who is France's best player in support - and backed up by wingers such as Legear and midfielders such as Fellaini and a defense with soon to join AC Milan Vertonghen, Kompany and Vermaelen, I'm not so sure there's a 'lack' of quality.

    In the mean time Lukaku decided every home top game in the last couple of weeks (against European teams Bruges and Ghent and against Genk), scoring 9 already though many said he's lacking top shape.

    What other 17 year old in Europe can say the same thing?

  • Comment number 87.

    Hopefully none until he is 21.

    Money, and the Sky Premier League in particular, is the root of all evil in football. The sooner the backside falls out of the PL, the better.

  • Comment number 88.

    I've refereed his brother when Anderlecht come to London for a tournament with Arsenal and he stood out amongst all the teams, not just for his height and physical stature but technically he was street's ahead of everyone.

    Looks a good prospect like his brother.


    http://sportrambles.wordpress.com

  • Comment number 89.

    Lukaku looks like a very young talented player

    I expect Anderlecht to keep him until he is probabily 20 or 21 years old and then sell him to the big clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea or Real Madrid

    Remember he still very young

  • Comment number 90.

    Jimmy Jazz I’d just like to take issue with a few of your comments which were particularly derogatory towards the ‘Sky Premier League’. Do you realise that the German league which you describe as ‘responsibly run’ gains the majority of its tv money from Sky Deutschland? The fact the Premier League is able to generate money from around the world, not just this country, and can therefore attract players like Lukaku should be seen as a good thing.

  • Comment number 91.

    kris, what utter nonsense. It's a false economy. The average attendance in the BundesLiga is 42,000. Fans come first. They have a sensible fiscal policy. The PL (and Barca and Real Madrid) distort the global market.

    It's also detrimental to your national team and youth development. Overpriced, average foreigners do not improve your league. We will see more Liverpool scenarios and I personally look forward to it.

    The Premier League is not the best league in the world, unless the only factor taken into consideration is money.

  • Comment number 92.


    I don't disagree fans certainly come first in the Bundesliga. I'd add to your point that not only (or perhaps for this reason) does the German league attract a better average attendance, but it is a great deal cheaper to watch.
    Yet, I strongly dispute any idea that the Premier League is in some way a false economy or running an insensible financial policy. Very simply the Premier League is, quite deliberately, competitive. We know we can attract more money in sponsorship, television deals, merchandise and, in actual fact, gate receipts than the average German club. I fail to see how this is in anyway false. Manchester City, Chelsea and Portsmouth have perhaps spent money from non-footballing sources of revenue which I agree would be false, but the majority of clubs in this league run their affairs properly.
    Hence, in this debate, higher revenues have to be spent somewhere unless you wish to see profits disappear into huge dividends, why shouldn’t it be on player’s wages therefore attracting the best quality players in the world? Whether the foreigners purchased have been overpriced and average is an entirely different argument, but you can’t deny bringing in players of the ilk of Ronaldo, Torres and Drogba has added huge value to the Premier league and the income it can generate. The same logic arguably lies behind Real Madrid and Barcelona’s transfer policy.
    Does money alone make us the best division in the world? Of course not, the two overriding factors should be entertainment and results. The global interest in the Premier League certainly suggests we’re the most entertaining, why would we generate such high television revenues if we weren’t? Do we do the best? You could run a whole thread on that debate so I won’t bother to answer it, but on Uefa club rankings alone we make up four of Europe’s top six clubs.
    Again, I stress the same point, the Premier League’s earning potential and ability to attract players like Lukaku (once he is a proven talent, not necessarily at this moment in time) should be seen as a positive thing for our league.

  • Comment number 93.

    17?!?!

    These wonder kids always seem to burn out early. Look at Owen, he is barely 30 and his best years are well behind him.

    http://www.inofftheghost.wordpress.com

  • Comment number 94.

    15 goals in the Belgium league seems very average to me, and it seems like he's learning his trade as a long-ball target striker, which isn't the most skillful role in the world. Just because he's strong for his age doesn't make him a talented footballer, he's just developed well for his age which isn't too uncommon.

    Then again if I had more information than hype, speculation, and a 90 minute report of a fairly dull sounding game to go by I might think something different. I'm guessing the scouts at these interested clubs know their stuff, and have probably studied him for a while. All the same I'm not going to get too excited about this guy.

    The best thing about this article is the Belgium FA's admission that their national team has some great prospects in it now because they've developed their youth facilities after having let their national team go to waste after overspending on too many foreign players in their league. Sounds familiar.

  • Comment number 95.

    Everybody keeps saying that he should stay at Anderlecht for a couple more years, but from the sounds coming from the Belgian press he may well need to move on sooner rather than later in order to develop.

    Look at Anelka, Rooney, Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo, all moved to bigger clubs at a very young age and it worked in their favour. They have improved year upon year, and how could they not. They played alongside some top class players, in a top league under some fantastic coaches. Now the question is would Lukaku learn more from the coaches at Real Madrid or Manchester United, the answer is undoubtly yes. Would Lukaku learn more from the players at say Chelsea or Barcelona, of course he would. So surely the best thing for him would be to move on as soon as possible? I think it would be, especially if he was being managed by someone like Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho who know how to protect young players.

    The saying goes 'If your good enough, your old enough'!

  • Comment number 96.

    @95 Dave Parker

    Moving to a big club at a young age doesn't always work out. For every Ronaldo there are hundreds of players who don't make the grade and fade into obscurity after their big move. With regards to Ronaldo he had the benefit of been brought through the excellent Sporting Lisbon youth program. Gareth Bale has been in great form for 6 months, but who's to say that wouldn't have happened if he had stayed longer at Southampton? Has Rooney really improved year on year? Apart from a 3/4 month golden patch last season has he really improved? Still with been the 'great English hope' he was always destined to be hyped far beyond his actual talent (case in point at periods of last season, various pundits were saying he was comparable to and/or better than Ronaldo and Messi!!!!) Anelka to me remains a player who has not quite lived up to his potential, I think he would definitely have been better served to stay at Arsenal for a few more years.

  • Comment number 97.

    As post 1 said, he certainly seems like the real deal in FM2011 - curse Chelsea for purchasing him, although i have Khouma Babacar, who is equally good; another raw diamond to blog about!!

    To give a comparison, Lukaku is scoring a goal every 2 games (albeit in a weaker league) which is much better than Rooney did at the same age.

    Without any bias, i would say that Manchester United would be the best place to nurture this talented youngster - he would given the experience of playing for a big European club without being pressured into performing every week, as he would at other clubs. A club that has experience of dealing with precocious young talents (Best, Giggs, Beckham and, most recently, Rooney).

    Someone mentioned that Chelsea would be his dream club. How can this be? I daresay Chelsea are noone's dream club, they have no romance of historically being a big team, they have only been relevent in the past 8 years or so. For someone that is so switched on, i would be surprised if they were his chosen destination. I can imagine Chelsea liking the idea of him though, as Drogba is coming to the end of his career, and being a physcial side, they need a replacement for him - Lukaku seems like the natural successor.

    I am surprised that noone has mentioned Manchester City coming in with a £100m bid for him yet.....they seem to get linked to every other player who has a half decent game. Again, i don't think they have the right attributes to nurture his talent (judging by the way that they are handling Adam Johnson!). It seems like a crazy circus of unpredictability there these days - not the stable environment a young player needs to develop.

    Also, i am hoping he will see through the lights of the flashbulbs that seem to surround Real Madrid. This is *not* the place to go to develop your talent whatsoever - just ask Karim Benzema! Real Madrid is built on the foundations of many broken dreams; how many players have had to leave Madrid in order to make a name for themselves?!

    Barcelona would probably be a decent place to nurture his talent, but Barcelona generally like to train their youth from an even earlier age at their academy, so maybe they would be less keen. Also, as someone pointed out his style of play probably would not suit Barcelona.

    Finally, maybe Arsenal would be a good destination, like United they have a record for taking young talents and honing their abilities. The only problem with this is that Wenger is notoriously frugal and might not be willing to spend the £20m or so needed to prize Lukaku away from Anderlecht.


  • Comment number 98.

    if he took kick after kick without complaining, it would be wrong to call him the new drogba.

    @34 jellywobble - I laugh at the idea that chelsea giving the odd game to a couple of youngsters they stole from other clubs represents a seismic shift in british football.

    it's almost as if giggs, beckham, scholes, butt, neville g and neville p didn't exist (before your time for most chelsea fans, though).

    you'd better hope that they develop fast, because the pensioners will need replacing soon. same for united. looks like arsenal might be in the best shape in two years.

  • Comment number 99.

    98. At 11:26am on 23 Dec 2010, jem wrote:

    if he took kick after kick without complaining, it would be wrong to call him the new drogba.

    @34 jellywobble - I laugh at the idea that chelsea giving the odd game to a couple of youngsters they stole from other clubs represents a seismic shift in british football.

    it's almost as if giggs, beckham, scholes, butt, neville g and neville p didn't exist (before your time for most chelsea fans, though).

    you'd better hope that they develop fast, because the pensioners will need replacing soon. same for united. looks like arsenal might be in the best shape in two years.

    --------------------------------------------------

    In defence of Chelsea, Man Utd are hardly angels in the 'stealing' away of young talent. A certain Mr Ronaldo had agreed personal terms with Parma before Man Utd came in and swooped him away. I believe there was a similar story with Macheda. Rafael and Fabio were purchased years before they actually moved to Old Trafford. Plenty of other young players have had their heads turned by the glamour of moving to a big club. Still lets not delve any deeper regarding those deals, Mr Ferguson might refuse to speak to me........ :o)

  • Comment number 100.

    if he took kick after kick without complaining, it would be wrong to call him the new drogba.
    __________________________________________________________

    Spot on! Drogba may look strong but he is knocked of the ball far easily than Messi, for example. He must have the lowest pain threshold of any professional sportsman. Drog is a weakling!

 

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