Chelsea striker arrives at Hawthorns on season-long loan deal
ALBION have beaten a host of Barclays Premier League clubs to the signing of Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku on a season-long loan.
The 19-year-old Belgium international has this evening put pen to paper after passing a medical.
The former Anderlecht star will wear the No.20 shirt and becomes the Baggies’ fifth summer signing after Steve Clarke returned to his former employers to bolster his attacking options.
Lukaku, who will not be involved in tonight’s friendly at Nottingham Forest (ko 7.45pm), arrives at The Hawthorns with an outstanding career league goal ratio of better than one every two games and has both Champions League and Europa League experience.
“I’m delighted to welcome Romelu to the club,” said head coach Clarke.
“He’s a strong, powerful centre-forward who is young, enthusiastic and eager to learn. He was also desperate to come here.
“Romelu had a lot of Europe’s top clubs chasing him when he joined Chelsea from Anderlecht for big money a year ago and also had several Premier League teams wanting to take him on loan this summer, so we’ve done well to get him.
“With the calibre of strikers Chelsea have got, he’s found it difficult to break into the first team at Stamford Bridge.
“But he’s had a season working at a top Premier League club and he now needs more minutes on the pitch.
“We’re more than happy for Romelu to continue his development with us. I am sure he will be a big help to the squad over the course of the season.”
The Antwerp-born youngster, who likes to be called ‘Rom’, started his career with local side Rupel Boom before moving onto the youth academy at Lierse, where he was snapped up by Anderlecht as a 13-year-old in 2006.
He made his professional debut at the tender age of 16 – while still at school – and in 2009/10 he finished as the club’s top scorer to help fire the Belgian giants to the league title.
Lukaku is the son of former Zaire international, Roger, and in 2011 he won the Belgian Ebony Shoe – an annual award given to the best African player, or player of African origin, in the Jupiler Pro League.
In his final season before moving to England, he scored 12 goals in 28 league games, including three as a sub.
Last season was one of development for Lukaku, as the form of Didier Drogba, Fernando Torres and Salomon Kalou, allied to Daniel Sturridge’s emergence, restricted his first-team opportunities.
He made four starts and eight substitute appearances and has been eager for a loan spell to get more game time.
On the international front, Lukaku represented his country at Under-15s level and progressed through the ranks before making his full international debut as a 76th-minute substitute in a 1-0 friendly defeat by Croatia in March 2010.
He now has 15 caps to his name, with his two international goals coming in a 2-0 friendly win over Russia in November 2010.
In total, the 6ft3in hotshot has made 71 career league appearances, including 20 as a substitute, scoring 36 goals.