Chelsea’s record signing Romelu Lukaku has been backed to bring out the best in his fellow big-money buys Christian Pulisic, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner.
Blues head coach Thomas Tuchel believes Lukaku – who on Thursday cost a whopping £97.5million from Inter Milan – offers the team a world-class number nine in the mould of club greats Didier Drogba and Diego Costa.
The Belgium striker is tasked with spearheading an expensively assembled forward line, backed up by the talented trio of Pulisic, Havertz and Werner, who have so far only shown fleeting glimpses of their skills since making high-profile moves from Germany’s Bundesliga.
Quarantine rules mean Chelsea must wait until next weekend’s Premier League trip to Arsenal to unleash their latest purchase and Tuchel expects Lukaku’s introduction to have a major impact on those around him.
“Let’s be honest, when I thought about Chelsea before I even entered the club and had the chance to be part of it, I thought of personalities up front of a certain category of striker, like Didier Drogba, like Diego Costa,” said Tuchel ahead of Saturday’s top-flight opener against Crystal Palace.
“This, for me, is something that embodies Chelsea and what Chelsea stands for.
“He is a true number nine; he is a number nine that I see in a Chelsea shirt. I see Chelsea with strong strikers, strong personalities and also physical strikers – the league demands it.
“For me, it’s a perfect fit to Chelsea to have this kind of player up front. He is happy to take responsibility, he has matured, he has played abroad, he has had success in various big clubs.
“He will take weight off the shoulders from our younger players and this is a huge part of the story: that he does not step away and he is happy to make life easier for players around him.
“I think these players – like Christian, like Kai, like Timo – they will benefit from him.”
Former Bayer Leverkusen playmaker Havertz – Chelsea’s previous record acquisition – repaid a hefty chunk of his reported £72m fee by scoring the winner in May’s Champions League final against Manchester City.
Pulisic’s Blues career has been a little stop-start since Borussia Dortmund received around £57m for his services in 2019, while former RB Leipzig forward Werner managed an underwhelming 12 goals in his debut campaign having cost in the region of £47m.
Lukaku knows all too well about difficult beginnings at Stamford Bridge after failing to score in 15 outings in his first spell with the club between 2011 and 2014, as well as being sent on loan to West Brom and Everton.
A permanent stint with the Toffees followed by time at Manchester United and Inter – where last season he won Serie A – helped transform him into one of the world’s leading marksmen.
Tuchel would not be drawn on how the 28-year-old measures up against the likes of Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski and believes the player is equally unconcerned.
“(He is) one of the best strikers in the world; the best striker, I don’t know because they are all a bit different and I don’t like comparisons between individuals in a team sport,” said the German coach.
“But one of the best, absolutely sure and a big personality.
“I think he does not worry about, ‘Am I in the same light as others?’.
“We hope he can shine like he is used to and it’s now on us to make him feel welcome and to produce the environment that he can do what he does and that’s scoring.”