50 goals, 100 games: Romelu Lukaku is on the path to greatness

50 goals, 100 games: Romelu Lukaku is on the path to greatness

Football fans were split down the middle when Romelu Lukaku joined Everton permanently last summer.

While some thought that Chelsea had done well to pocket £28 m (fee via BBC Sport) for a raw talent who they seemingly wouldn’t miss, others felt the Toffees had made an incredible investment.

Chelsea had just signed Atletico Madrid hitman Diego Costa at the time and it was argued that reaping a weighty club record fee from Everton, for a toy they no longer wanted to use, was brilliant business.

On the flip side, though, Lukaku’s promise has been so high since a young age that many felt, with more and more money being pumped into the game, £28m would be a snip in a few years’ time.

And after bagging his 50th goal on his 100th appearance for Everton in their 1-1 stalemate with Crystal Palace on Monday, those who believed the latter have every right to feel vindicated.

While Chelsea have slumped dramatically in the current campaign, poisoned by a combination of a leaky defence and a lack of goals, Lukaku has taken his game to the next level at Everton.

Goodison Park has been labelled in recent years as being a graveyard for strikers, an environment where previously fine marksman would see their talent in front of goal fade in the blink of an eye.

Romelu Lukaku has completed 59% of his take-ons in the Premier League this season.

Romelu Lukaku has scored 14 goals in all competitions for Everton so far this season, which is just six shy of his tally last season.

From the likes of Andy Johnson to Yakubu to Nikica Jelavic, the Merseysiders struggled to field a regular goalscoring threat not too long ago and often had to use midfielders such as Tim Cahill up front instead.

However, Evertonians have never looked back since Lukaku headed home his first goal for the club in their thrilling 3-2 win against West Ham United at the Boleyn Ground in September 2013.

Lukaku has lifted the striker curse that was embedded at Goodison for years and is on the glittering pathway to becoming an all-time Premier League great in his position at the current rate.

Not only has Lukaku recently bagged 50 career goals for Everton, but the Belgium international also scored his 50th in the Premier League against Aston Villa last month, writing his name in English football folklore.

Lukaku joined Robbie Fowler, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo by becoming just the fifth player in history to reach the lucrative landmark of 50 league goals by the age of 23.

The tables have all of a sudden turned regarding Lukaku and Chelsea. While Jose Mourinho’s side currently flounder in 14th place, sitting three points off the relegation zone, Lukaku is on his way to greatness.

Lukaku would currently walk into Chelsea’s starting line-up with ease, though the player he is at the moment is much improved from the one the Londoners sold in July 2014.

The former Anderlecht man has always been known for his pace and power, from his days in Belgium to a loan spell at West Bromwich Albion, but his finesse has come on leaps and bounds this term.

“I’m not on the edge but if I get the ball and start running, just get out of the way because you’ll be on the floor,” Lukaku told the Guardian in the summer.

Lukaku’s hold-up play when backing into centre-backs and producing lay-offs for an abundance of Everton runners off him has been a joy to behold as he continues to morph into the complete centre-forward.

His technical improvement has helped Everton massively in terms of breaking teams down from open play, also chipping in with four league assists when leading the line for Roberto Martinez’s side.

The Everton No.10 has already scored more league goals (11) than he did last season (10) and is only behind Barcelona’s Neymar when it comes to most strikes netted between the ages of 18 and 23 at the moment.

Neymar leads the way with 14 league goals scored in La Liga so far this season, with Lukaku in second on 11 ahead of Marseille’s Michy Batshuayi (10) and Tottenham Hotspur man Harry Kane (8).

Only Jamie Vardy (14) is ahead of him in the Premier League’s top goalscorers list in the current campaign, making Lukaku a great shout to fight tooth and nail for the Golden Boot award at the end of the season.

Lukaku has also scored more than double the amount of league goals Chelsea’s strikers have mustered up between them so far, with Diego Costa (3) and Falcao (1) having scored just four combined this season.

The statistics are there to show that Lukaku is probably the most lethal young striker in the world on current form and there is a growing feeling that, at just 22, he is only just getting started.

Remember the name: Romelu Lukaku.