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Five Aside

Romelu Lukaku targets Chelsea success

Romelu Lukaku has admitted on Belgian television show “Reyers Laat” that his move to Chelsea has not gone according to plan but insisted: “It is my absolute ambition to go back there and be their No. 1 striker.”

Romelu Lukaku wants to prove his worth to Jose Mourinho.
Romelu Lukaku wants to prove his worth to Jose Mourinho.

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The 20-year-old is currently on a season-long loan at Everton after having struggled to make his mark at Stamford Bridge since his 2011 move from Anderlecht, and Roberto Martinez has said he will “fight” to keep the striker at Goodison Park.

The Belgium international had himself suggested he might be willing to stay on, although Jose Mourinho -- who has been publicly critical of the striker -- dismissed the suggestion at the time.

Taking part in a television discussion show in his home country on Monday, Lukaku was shown an old video clip of himself visiting Stamford Bridge and saying it was his dream to play for the Blues. The reality of the switch has been difficult, however.

“It isn’t a dream anymore -- at a certain point, you turn your dreams into ambitions, targets,” he said. “When I was seven, my ambition was to get into Anderlecht’s full squad as soon as possible. I managed it at 16. Then I wanted to go to Chelsea. I did but then I didn’t play there. Now it is my absolute ambition to go back there and be their No. 1 striker.”

Asked how he was feeling in general, Lukaku gave some insight as to the changes he has been through since leaving Anderlecht.

“So much has changed over the past years,” he said. “I was 18 when I moved to London. I wasn’t playing much. And you’re suddenly in a different world. Everything is so much bigger, so different from Brussels or Bornem, where I’m from. So many people, so many beautiful things, and some things that are not so good. I think I grew up a lot faster in that first year than I normally would have.”

On whether he gets lonely, he added: “You know, people think the life of footballers is all great, with the nicest cars and lots of money, but I assure you: I’m 20 and I miss hugging my mum, laughing with my brother. I call them every day, sometimes every two hours, just to say something silly.

“The best thing you can have is being with your family, your mates, in familiar surroundings. I play football because it is my absolute passion. But given the chance to come back to Belgium, even for half a day, I’ll do it, just to be at home, have a laugh, eat my mum’s food.”

Lukaku said he keeps in touch with fellow Belgium international Eden Hazard, and is delighted to see him thriving under Mourinho at Chelsea.

“It doesn’t hurt at all [to see him playing so well for Chelsea],” he said. “I always congratulate him after a good game. If he’s had a so-so game, I tell him he’ll do better next time. But, no, it really doesn’t hurt. You see, I believe in God. And I just think that if this is the path he has chosen for me then that is the way it will be. Still, my ambition is to be one of Chelsea’s top players, alongside Eden.”

On Hazard’s current form, he said: “He’s really growing in his role as a superstar. You’re in that dressing room with all those characters, all those players who want to be the best at the club. Some players, when they arrive at the club, are cheered more than others. Right now he gets the biggest cheer. But he deserves it. He’s really consistent and he really deserves this.”

In a separate interview with Het Laatste Nieuws, Lukaku said he wanted to become as prolific as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez and Roberto Lewandowski.

He said: “That's the category of strikers I want to be in. I was in the top 10 last year and I always aim higher. You can check that: every year I have scored more. I look at those top strikers and I learn from them all. No striker is the same. The only thing they have in common is that they score a lot of goals.

“Ibrahimovic makes sure every attack ends with him. Suarez has an incredible ability to slice through defences and a deadly right foot. With Van Persie, it's his first touch that makes the difference. And Lewandowski's off-the-ball movement is fantastic.

“I try to learn from them all but I am different. More explosive. My strengths are speed and power. That makes it hard for defenders to mark me. But you have to use different weapons in each game, so I try to learn from those other strikers. I don't want to copy them, though. I want to be myself. I don't have any time to lose. The only competition you have as a footballer is yourself."


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