Everton’s Lukaku battling to recover from PL second season syndrome
Arriving in the Premier League as a highly-regarded teenage talent in 2011, towering Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku looked set to make an instant impact at Chelsea, with his stature and technique similar to that of Blues hero Didier Drogba.
Although, Lukaku wasn’t able to flourish at Stamford Bridge as he was expected to, after a £10m switch from Anderlecht, eventually being loaned out to both West Bromwich Albion and Everton respectively for a season each.
It was on Merseyside, however, that this bulldozing frontman discovered his true form in front of goal. The 22-year-old netted 19 times in all competitions for club and country during the 2013/14 campaign, before sealing a club record £28m permanent Toffees switch, where he is now 9/4 with Coral to help capture a top six finish.
Despite his incredible form during his previous loan stint with Roberto Martinez’s men, Lukaku then struggled to make the same overall impact after permanently relocating, possibly buckling under the mammoth price-tag and suffering from second season syndrome.
The forward did enjoy further goal scoring exploits, but his overall performances left a lot to be desired, mainly saving his best outings for the Europa League, while Everton ultimately managed to finish 11th after dangerously stumbling among the bottom places beforehand.
For Lukaku, this season brings a whole new lease of life, with the return of Gerard Deulofeu on a permanent basis set to help him hugely with plenty of creativity, while the club still possess enough widemen to target the Belgian from the flanks.
The Belgium international has already notched up four top-flight strikes, as well as a double in the Capital One Cup, with the Toffees winning on every occasion their potentially revived sharpshooter has found the net, exactly the impact Martinez has desired.
Thanks to Lukaku’s heroics at The Hawthorns on Monday night, Everton have climbed up to fifth position in the table and look a superior team to that of which languished in the bottom-half in last season’s run-in.
The in-form forward dispatched a brace to help secure the Toffees’ comeback from being 2-0 down before the hour mark, a double that evidently overjoyed himself and his determined manager, making them 9/1 for a top four finish.
“Rom [Lukaku] was a completely different player in the second half,” stated Martinez. “The overall performance of the team in the first half was a little bit off.
“We were sloppy and sluggish. We didn’t react quick enough. But we reset at half-time and Rom, like every player, had a different intensity in the second half. Rom has the unique strength of being the man the team needs. He has an elite brain. When he puts his mind to it he can achieve anything.”
Having started brightly this term with more dominant displays, echoing his showings during that previous successful loan spell, can Lukaku now finally become the striker he was expected to be since he was a terrorising teen?
The Merseyside marksman’s early campaign form suggests so, while Martinez will be desperate for his main man to continue to bully defences and help challenge the country’s big guns, in what could be a promising season at Goodison Park.