ROMELU Lukaku believes his spell at The Hawthorns is making him a better player – and largely because of Jonas Olsson’s ‘bullying’ on the practice pitch.
The on-loan Chelsea striker is used to training-ground tussles with John Terry, Alex and David Luiz.
But he insists the daily challenge he faces from Olsson is up there with the Blues’ best defenders.
And he reckons his sparring with the Sweden international is a big reason behind the form that saw him fire his sixth goal of the season in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Norwich.
“It was good to score but I'm happy with the win,” said Lukaku.
“You play football to win. If you can score, then's it's alright, but you play to win.
“As a striker, if you do your job, you score goals, and I'm very happy to score but I have to be patient, and learn and try and improve as much as I can.
“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.
“For me, it's good to be here and then to show to the club that I can really do well for them.”
The Belgium international has also praised the impact Steve Clarke is having on his game.
He added: “I want to stay here. I've had so many questions in the last few weeks '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 head coach who wanted me from the beginning of the season and I have a great rapport with him.
“He's not scared to put me on the bench even if I played well the game before.
“It’s really good to have a head coach 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.”
And when quizzed if new Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez had been in contact with him directly, he said: “No. I know what is going on. For me, it is 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.
“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 playing.
“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 XI 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.
“There has never been any talk about me going back in January.
“They are doing well in the league so I don't think they need me back. They don't need me at this point.
“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, I don't have negative problems with them. It is a good club.”