Romelu Lukaku has revealed he wants to remain at West Bromwich Albion for two years before returning to parent club Chelsea.
caption:Romelu Lukaku has proved a success at West Brom
The striker joined Chelsea from Anderlecht in the summer of 2011, but he had limited opportunities under first Andre Villas-Boas and then Roberto Di Matteo and was allowed to depart on loan for the current season.
The Belgium international has flourished under the guidance of Baggies boss Steve Clarke and took his goals tally for the season to six with a strike in the 2-1 win over Norwich on Saturday.
“I want to stay here,” he said after his late header on Saturday had ended Albion’s four-game run without a win and halted Norwich’s sequence of ten League matches unbeaten. “I’ve had so many questions in the last few weeks saying ‘Are you staying?’ I have a lot of contact with Chelsea but they are asking questions about my development and I tell them I’m very happy to be here.
“I have a manager who wanted me from the beginning of the season and I have a great rapport with him.”
Lukaku’s sixth goal of the season came on an afternoon on which Albion ended their six-hour goal drought. It also left them sixth in the table until the Belgian’s parent club ran amok against Villa 24 hours later. He has still been on the substitutes’ bench 11 times this season, though, so is he getting the game time he wanted?
“The manager isn’t scared to put me on the bench even if I played well the game before,” he added. “It’s really good to have a manager that is challenging me mentally and I like that because great players can always respond to that and hopefully I can be a great player in the future.
“In some games, I don't play good and I score. Then in other games I play good and I don’t score. Hopefully, I can find that balance because big players play well and score as well. I want to be one of those.
“As a striker, if you do your job, you score goals, and I’m very happy to score here but I have to be patient, and learn and try and improve as much as I can.”
Albion head coach Steve Clarke has grown tired of explaining that Chelsea have a recall clause on the player in January, as, he says, is the case with all season-long loans. Rafa Benitez hasn’t put in a personal call to check on a striker he hasn’t yet worked with but his staff are closely monitoring the situation.
“I know what is going on,” Lukaku said. “For me, it is a one-year loan. Then, hopefully, it may be one year again because I need to play as much as I can in the next two years.
“For me, it is very important to play week in and week out because, at 19, you want to develop and I hope to be one of the great players in the Premier League.
“That is my ambition but I have to be patient as well. I can learn a lot here, I can improve here. Here are players who want me to improve, who challenge me every time in training, like Jonas Olsson, who is a bully with me but I love it. I love it.
“I told him that last year I had Alex, John Terry and David Luiz against me. Now I have Jonas, who, for me, is one of the top defenders in this league. When Chelsea call me, I answer the phone and we talk. They ask me how I feel and I tell them every time I'm very happy to be here and to play.
“They know this season I’m improving and, when I go back there, I want to be a much better player than when I arrived there. My main ambition is to start in the first 11 in every game at Chelsea, so I think for me it’s a good start here because last year I learnt a lot but didn’t play that much.
“This, for me, is the first year in the Premier League. I’m still learning and there are many challenges I have to pass. Hopefully I can do well. Chelsea are doing well in the League, so I don’t think they need me back. They don’t need me at this point. Albion need me more. Chelsea know I’m a player that is hungry to play football and they will benefit from that in the future. It is my parent club, I love the club.”