The question of how to use Romelu Lukaku to Chelsea’s best advantage has reared its head again – with the suggestion that he be used as bait to try to capture England’s latest shining star Ross Barkley.
It’s an intriguing idea. Barkley is an exciting, if raw, talent and would provide the Chelsea midfield with speed and skill on the ball. Lukaku, meanwhile, is probably better thought of at Goodison Park (after a successful season there) than he is at Stamford Bridge. Is this a goer?
No. Almost certainly not. Barkley may well prove to be England’s surprise hit at the World Cup – but he is unlikely to figure high in Mourinho’s plans. As Roy Hodgson has already pointed out to reporters after the Ecuador game, Barkley may look thrilling on the ball but he gives away possession too often – and giving away the ball is a cardinal sin in Mourinho’s book.
Besides, It seems that Mourinho has his midfield planned out for next season, if we assume that his interest in Fabregas comes to fruition. Interestingly, Fabregas counts as a homegrown player under UEFA rules – which lessens the need to bring in an English player like Barkley.
Furthermore, Everton are unlikely to let Barkley go for anything less than silly money, especially if he performs well in Brazil. That will send his price tag sky high. It would be surprising if there aren’t English clubs bidding for him – but I suspect it’s more likely to be Manchester United or City who make the running.
But what about Lukaku? There’s no doubt that Everton would like to take him back, and might well be tempted to make the move permanent. But their valuation of the player is likely to be somewhat short of Chelsea’s, and if Chelsea are to cash in on the Belgian international, his probable destination is abroad. Already, Inter have reportedly expressed an interest.
Using Lukaku in a swap deal does make sense for Chelsea – but only if they can secure the right player. Is there anyone at Everton who might take Mourinho’s fancy? It would seem unlikely. If a swap deal involving Lukaku does take place, the club might be better advised to use him to bring in a replacement striker – perhaps Remy or Bony. Certainly, it would be in QPR’s and Swansea’s interest to secure a proven Premier League striker in place of the one they’re likely to lose this summer anyway.
An educated guess would be that both Lukaku and Barkley stay at their respective clubs this transfer window. Chelsea will need a striker, so should hold onto Lukaku. Everton don’t need money, so don’t need to cash in on Barkley.
Of the pair, Barkley’s future is the more questionable. The example of Jack Rodwell may well give him, and any big club wanting to buy him, food for thought. Once the future of England’s midfield, Rodwell is now reduced to a bit part player at Manchester City. It would be a shame, one feels, if the same fate befell Barkley after an ill-starred move to Chelsea.