Romelu Lukaku wants to win the fame that Didier Drogba enjoyed as a Chelsea striker and has his sights on a return to Stamford Bridge – but only when he can play every game.
The 19-year-old Belgian, who is midway through a season-long loan at West Bromwich Albion, scored his sixth top-flight goal to give them a 2-1 win over Norwich on Saturday on the day it was confirmed that Daniel Sturridge is to join Liverpool.
Chelsea will only have Fernando Torres as a recognised centre forward, leaving Albion wondering whether interim manager Rafael Benitez will invoke the January release clause in Lukaku's loan. Chelsea spent £18 million when they acquired him from Anderlecht in August 2011.
But Lukaku, who was given only one Premier League start for Chelsea, says he would rather stay where he is than go back to sitting on the bench. He has not nailed down a place at The Hawthorns but has started five and been involved in all bar one of Albion's 18 matches so far.
"I'm hungry to play for Chelsea and I love the club," Lukaku said. "But I want to be ready to start every game. I don't want to be on the bench.
"When Chelsea call me they ask me how I feel and I tell them every time I'm very happy to be here and play. They know this season I'm improving but when I go back there I want to be a much better player than when I arrived. I want to be one of the great players in the Premier League.
"But I have to be patient. It is a one-season loan but I would be happy to be here for two years because I need to play as much as I can and show that I can really do well for them."
The muscular teenager showed Drogba-like qualities as he outjumped his marker to head Saturday's winner eight minutes from time, giving Albion a first win in five and ending Norwich's 10-match unbeaten run.
The club's manager, Steve Clarke, also once of Chelsea, has seen Lukaku make big strides. "When he came here I saw a boy with little confidence after moving for a lot of money and not having many chances," he said. "Now he has more confidence, his touch is improving, his work rate is better and when he has played he has scored goals.
"It is not fair to compare him with Drogba or any other player but he has a big future. He just needs time to develop and see how good he becomes."
WBA: FOSTER 6, JONES 7, McAULEY 7, OLSSON 7, POPOV 7, GERA 6, BRUNT 6, DORRANS 6, MORRISON 6, ODEMWINGIE 5, LUKAKU 8
Norwich: BUNN 7, GARRIDO 6, BASSONG 7, TURNER, WHITTAKER 6, PILKINGTON 5, JOHNSON 6, TETTEY 5, SNODGRASS 6, MORISON 6, HOOLAHAN 6
Goals: West Bromwich Albion Gera 43, Lukaku 82. Norwich City Snodgrass 23. Subs: West Bromwich Fortune 6 (Dorrans, h-t), Long 7 (Gera, 61), Tamas (Lukaku, 84). Norwich R Martin 6 (Whittaker, 55), Howson (Hoolahan, 73), Jackson (Tettey, 84). Booked: West Bromwich Popov. Norwich Turner. Man of the match Lukaku. Match rating 6/10. Possession: West Bromwich 42% Norwich 58%. Attempts on target: West Bromwich 8 Norwich 4. Referee M Atkinson (West Yorkshire). Att 25,799.
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