ANY hopes Sunderland might have of getting Chelsea forward Romelu Lukaku on loan next season are set to be dashed by incoming Blues’ boss Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho sees the 20-year-old Belgian as someone he can mould into the new Didier Drogba at Stamford Bridge.
And that is set to disappoint a host of chasing clubs, including West Brom who had the striker on loan last season where he proved his worth by scoring 17 goals at the Hawthorn – more than any player managed for the Blues during the same campaign.
Sunderland’s potential interest in Lukaku, reported in the Sunday Sun, may seem odd on the face of it.
But there were rumours inside the deepest football circles last season that Sunderland owner Ellis Short, who has close connections with Chelsea, might have been able to get the youngster on loan for Sunderland last summer.
Martin O’Neill is believed to have been unsure at the time – understandable, given Lukaku had not scored in a dozen appearances for the Blues at the time, though most of those appearances were as a substitute.
Ultimately, fledgling Albion boss secured the services of the prospect Chelsea paid Anderlecht £17m for and the rest is history as the Belgian powered his way into the spotlight and West Brom into a top-eight finish.
If that story is true, it might help explain why Short was so unimpressed with O’Neill’s signings – especially as on-loan Lukaku cut a swathe through Premier League defences, while £5.5m January signing Danny Graham failed to score at all for Sunderland.