Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho paying price for Romelu Lukaku short-sightedness
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was thinking in the short-term by signing Diego Costa and selling Romelu Lukaku
Jose Mourinho is facing a selection dilemma this weekend.
Does the Chelsea manager pick Diego Costa or leave the controversial striker on the bench?
Considering the pressure that the Chelsea boss is under after seven defeats in their opening 14 Premier League games, he will more than likely turn to the out-of-form Spain international to avoid a catastrophic upset at home to Bournemouth.
Mourinho has little options to choose from up front – it is Costa, the injury-prone Loic Remy or the confidence-sappeda and currently crocked Radamel Falcao.
The former Atletico Madrid striker justified his £32m price tag last season with a title-winning tally of 20 Premier League goals. But the 52-year-old’s short-sightedness means he is forced to rely on Costa, despite the Chelsea striker’s show of petulance on the bench after he didn’t play in Sunday’s goalless London derby at White Hart Lane.
And as Costa struggles to rekindle the sort of form that won the striker the Premier League player of the month for August in 2014 and a place in the division’s team of the year, Romelu Lukaku is the front-runner to scoop the PFA award for November.
Everton were unbeaten last month thanks to victories over Sunderland and Aston Villa and draws with West Ham United and Bournemouth. Lukaku was instrumental over the course of the month, scoring six of their 14 goals. He also made two assists in the 6-2 win against Sunderland.
According to stats provided by Oulala, Lukaku had 17 shots, with 75 per cent on target. He completed 82 per cent of his attempted dribbles, created six chances and registered two assists. His passing accuracy averaged 80 per cent.
The numbers only serve to underline why Lukaku would be an ideal fit for the current Chelsea side. He is athletic, powerful and his finishing has markedly improved over the past 24 months at Goodison Park.
The Belgium international swapped Chelsea for Everton in a £28m deal in 2014 amid claims from Mourinho that Lukaku was “not motivated” to fight for his place after he made just 10 Premier League appearances for the Blues over a three-year period, which included loan spells at West Brom and Everton.
Naturally, Costa’s 20-goal contribution in Chelsea’s title-winning season meant Lukaku’s departure was soon forgotten and left a non-talking point as many praised the west London side’s ability to get premium prices for their outcasts.
But the 27-year-old Spanish striker is looking like a short-term solution to a long-term problem as Mourinho faces questions about his lack of attacking options up front – just like he did two years ago.
Inevitably, the Chelsea manager’s decision to cut his losses with Lukaku – then 20 – is now a relevant talking point.
Why didn’t Mourinho embrace the challenge of converting the prodigious Belgian into a world-class talent at Stamford Bridge?
If Mourinho is to be believed, the former Anderlecht striker’s impatient attitude hindered their relationship, but surely that trait is common with most young strikers, particularly those with the undoubted potential of Lukaku. As one of the world’s most-decorated managers, the Portuguese coach had the experience to manage and satisfy Lukaku’s expectations.
After all, by August 2014, the towering forward had already scored 32 goals in 66 Premier League games during loans spells at Everton and West Brom. True, he was under more pressure to perform at Chelsea (and Lukaku did miss a decisive penalty in the shootout in the Uefa Super Cup in 2014), but Lukaku would have had experienced team-mates like his hero, Didier Drogba, to nurture the mentality required of a leading league striker.
Mourinho has often spoken about his desire to emulate Sir Alex Ferguson by making his second Chelsea reign a long and distinguished one. Such a sentiment makes his decision to get rid of Lukaku all the more bizarre.
To compound the misery of Chelsea supporters casting admiring what-ifs at the ‘Belgian Beast’, Lukaku’s compatriot and fellow Stamford Bridge reject Kevin De Bruyne is blossoming into a Premier League star at their rivals Manchester City.
The Citizens playmaker is another example of a promising youngster sold by the Chelsea manager, as Mourinho wasn’t prepared to satisfy De Bruyne’s cravings for regular first-team football. After 14 Premier League games, he already looks like a more consistent Oscar.
As the Chelsea manager attempts to keep his controversial front-man Costa on side over the coming weeks despite the striker’s poor form, Lukaku and Everton will be confronted with increasing speculation linking the striker with a £45m move to Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.
The Belgian Beast is looking increasingly like Everton’s gain – and Mourinho’s loss.