Chelsea's young Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku is unlikely to start for his country against England at Wembley tomorrow, but it is his restricted opportunities at club level that have led him to talk of his "joyless" recent experiences of playing the game.
The 19-year-old was quoted in the Belgian newspaper De Standaard yesterday as saying he felt no emotion when Chelsea won the Champions League and FA Cup this season, such was the limited extent of his involvement in those competitions. Lukaku also revealed he would often leave a match after 70 minutes if he was watching from the stands.
The striker, who moved to Chelsea from Anderlecht for £20m a year ago, started only four games and came on as a substitute on eight occasions. In the FA Cup, he played only a few minutes in the third round against Portsmouth.
"When [Salomon] Kalou put the Cup on my lap in the bus I asked him to take it away immediately. I didn't want to touch it because, just as with the Champions League, I had no part in it at all," Lukaku said. "I don't like people talking to me about the Champions League. It wasn't me, but my team that won it."
Lukaku said he would seek talks with Chelsea's manager, whether that is the incumbent Roberto Di Matteo or a successor. "I will see whether he's serious about me or not. If not, I will go away on loan. I have to play."
If Lukaku is worried about his future at Stamford Bridge he should spare a thought for the former Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka. The Frenchman now plays for Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua – who are also linked with a move for Chelsea's Didier Drogba – and was forced to play up front with the club's 45-year-old owner, Zhu Jun, in a friendly yesterday. At least Roman Abramovich doesn't do that.