SOCCER

‘Lukaku is in same bracket as Ronaldo and Lewandowski’ – Chelsea ‘real contenders’ after £98m signing, says Cole


The former Stamford Bridge favourite thinks the Belgian forward will take Thomas Tuchel’s side to the next level in 2021-22

Romelu Lukaku “is in the same bracket as Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo” according to Joe Cole, who says Chelsea are “real contenders” for the Premier League title after signing the £98 million ($135m) striker.

Chelsea have spent big money to bring Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge from Inter, seven years after selling him to Everton for just £28m ($39m).

The Belgium international went on to Manchester United before moving to San Siro where he became a Serie A winner while solidifying his reputation as one of the top forwards in Europe, and Cole thinks his presence will help the Blues reach new heights in 2021-22.

What’s been said?

The former Chelsea winger says Lukaku is capable of emulating Juventus superstar Ronaldo and Bayern Munich talisman Lewandowski if he continues on his current trajectory.

“He has got all the attributes you want from a striker,” Cole told The Sun. “Sometimes you play with strikers who have great movement but cannot hold the ball up, or they are not clean with the ball so you can’t bounce it off them.

“Lukaku is the whole package. He is in the same bracket as Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo. I am not putting him quite up there with those two at the moment, but he can become that kind of player if he keeps improving the way he has. Any midfielder would love playing with him.”

Pressed on the Blues’ chances of winning their first Premier League title since 2016-17, the 39-year-old pundit added: “I think it puts them right on the level with Manchester City, especially if they don’t do anything more. I look at the Chelsea squad now and don’t see any weaknesses.

“If you look at last season and look at it very crudely, even though they won the Champions League, the top scorer finished with seven goals. So it’s evident they needed a goalscorer and Lukaku’s a goalscorer.

“Not only that, but he is the complete focal point of an attack. Chelsea have an abundance of players who can play in and around him. They are now real contenders.”

Lukaku’s numbers at Inter

Lukaku quickly nailed down a role as Inter’s first-choice No.9 upon his arrival at San Siro from United in 2019, and went on to appear in a grand total of 95 games across all competitions for the Italian giants.

The 28-year-old found the net on 64 occasions, including 24 in Serie A last season as the Nerazzurri clinched their first Scudetto in 11 years, and also provided 16 assists for his team-mates.

Cole on Abraham

Lukaku’s return to west London has prompted Chelsea to accept a bid from Roma for Tammy Abraham, who initially fell down the squad pecking order following Thomas Tuchel’s appointment as head coach in January.

Cole sees no reason why Abraham can’t go away and prove himself before retracing his steps in the future just like Lukaku, with it his belief that the 23-year-old still has plenty of potential to unlock.

“Tammy is a fantastic footballer and character and this could be a  positive thing for him,” he said. “He might be unhappy but if Chelsea are Tammy’s goal this must show him he could come back one day. Like Lukaku, he is young enough to come again.

“Chelsea have decided they wanted a change but what Tammy has got to do now is come back and haunt the club in the same way Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah did. He has to go away, develop himself and show he is a fantastic talent.”

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