Diego Costa was superb at times for Chelsea last season, scoring 20 goals as the Blues stormed to a 5th Premier League title.
But with reports that Antonio Conte has ruled the Spaniard out of his plans for next season, rumours of a return for former Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku were almost inevitable.
Lukaku looks certain to leave Goodison this summer and could re-sign for Chelsea in a deal that could set the Blues back up to £100m, and in honour of his possible return, here’s a look at 6 reasons why the Belgian would be an upgrade on Diego Costa, should he sign.
6. Lukaku Badly Wants to Succeed at Chelsea
Despite rumours that former boss Jose Mourinho is interested in the Belgian, reports suggest Lukaku feels he has unfinished business in west London.
After signing for Everton three years ago, Lukaku told Sport Voetbal via the Express : “I will always be a fan of that club. It’s not because I left in the wrong circumstances, that feeling disappears. But a footballer wants to play.”
Should Chelsea sign Lukaku, the former West Brom loanee will finally be guaranteed the responsibility to lead the line. Antonio Conte is reportedly demanding that the Blues cough up whatever it takes to sign the Everton hitman and if Chelsea part with £100m, it’s impossible to imagine he won’t be Chelsea’s first choice.
5. He Idolises Chelsea Legend & ‘Big Brother’ Didier Drogba
Lukaku and Chelsea legend Didier Drogba are known to be close, with Drogba frequently teasing Blues fans about the possibility of a Stamford Bridge return for the former Anderlecht striker.
Chelsea fans will be hoping Lukaku can emulate Drogba’s unerring record on the big occasions, scoring in four FA Cup finals as well as netting both the equaliser and the deciding penalty in Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League triumph over Bayern Munich.
Speaking to Sky Sports last month, Drogba said: “He knows the house already and I think he wants to prove he can be successful here, he didn’t get the chance to do it. Chelsea is his club since he was young, so why not?
“I think he’s my little brother. He’s a really good guy. He’s a very good player, but also a great man.”
4. Fewer Controversies, On and Off the Pitch
Chelsea fans fell in love with ‘The Guv’nor’ Diego Costa partly because of his reputation as a hardman and as a constant nuisance to opposition defences, but in truth, Costa’s combustive nature has often been an unnecessary distraction.
Though the former Atletico Madrid man dramatically cleaned up his act last season, he was dropped for Chelsea’s 3-0 away win against Leicester in January following a bust-up with Antonio Conte.
Further mid-game squabbles including a row with Spain teammate Pedro during Chelsea’s trip to White Hart Lane in the league seemed symptomatic of underlying tensions, and Lukaku’s humble attitude may be something of a relief at the Bridge.
3. He Outscored Diego Costa Last Season Without World Class Service
Lukaku was unplayable at times last season as he racked up 25 Premier League goals to Costa’s 20, with Costa just edging Lukaku with 7 assists to the Belgian’s 6.
But Lukaku’s achievement is even more impressive given the fact that unlike Costa, the 24-year-old couldn’t rely on stellar service from the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard.
Last season, Lukaku used his physicality and determination to dig out chances for himself on many occasions, without the deluge of chances Antonio Conte’s dynamic side presented to the Spaniard.
2. At Just 24, His Best Years Are Still Ahead of Him
Given how familiar we’ve become with Lukaku, its easy to forget just how young he is. The Belgian won the Belgian First Division A golden boot in his first full season as pro at the tender age of just 16.
He bagged 15 times as Anderlecht charged to a league win 2009/10 and since his move to Chelsea and subsequent spells at West Brom and Everton, he has scored a staggering 85 goals in 186 appearances.
At 28, Costa will soon be past his peak, whilst Lukaku still has so much more to offer.
1. He’s Broken a Host of Goalscoring Records at Everton
Since joining Everton, Lukaku has been the Toffies’ top goalscorer for three consecutive seasons. He recently became their top scorer in the Premier League era and has broken the record for goals scored by a Toffies player in the Premier League in a single season twice.
Lukaku has joined an elite group amongst the likes of Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and Robbie Fowler, all of whom have bagged over 80 league goals before their 24th birthday.