Shaun Wright-Phillips believes Romelu Lukaku is the missing piece to Chelsea’s jigsaw and is confident his former club can go from strength to strength with the Belgium international leading the line.
Lukaku made his second debut for Chelsea after returning to England from Inter Milan for a reported £96million and made an impression straight away after he scored in a 2-0 win against Arsenal last month at the Emirates Stadium.
Thomas Tuchel’s men, who saw off Crystal Palace in their Premier League opener, have made an unbeaten start to the season after drawing 1-1 against Liverpool with 10 men last weekend. Lukaku started that match and the 28-year-old seems to have settled straight back into life in England.
Former England winger Wright-Phillips said: “For me, they’ve added a piece that was missing to their jigsaw.
“With Lukaku you know if he’s getting chances, you know he’ll score more than 20 goals a season if not more. They missed that last year because I think their top goalscorer was on like six or seven goals.
“He is just a learner of the game and I think he studies and always asks questions of the game. He won’t do anything less than score goals at Chelsea.”
The reigning Champions League winners broke their club transfer record to secure the services of Lukaku, who has racked up over £300million in net transfer fees.
His previous term in west London came to an end in 2014 when he moved to Everton after successful loan spells with West Brom and then the Toffees – but he did not register a goal for Chelsea before he moved on.
Current Blues boss Tuchel was keen to add a striker to his ranks after Olivier Giroud was offloaded to AC Milan, while Tammy Abraham secured a move to Jose Mourinho’s Roma side.
Asked if a stint in Italy’s Serie A had made Lukaku a better striker, former Manchester City favourite Wright-Phillips said: “It looks like he has taken on board all the advice he has been given and I think he’s matured as a player and that has shown in his game.
“What I liked about him against Arsenal was that was the first time in a long time in a game where I’ve seen an actual number nine do what a number nine is supposed to do.
“Hold the ball up, bring other players into the game, his first goal that he scored was one you typically see in training.
Wright-Phillips who made 277 appearances for City during two spells – either side of his Chelsea stint – and also represented QPR, will be back playing at the Etihad Stadium in the Soccer Aid for UNICEF match on September 4 and will be on a team which includes former England quartet Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Jamie Redknapp.
The 39-year-old said: “I always look forward to playing football but it’s always a special occasion when it involves a club that’s so close to your heart.
“Whether I have a good display or a bad display, it’s for a great cause and I’m looking forward to putting on the England shirt again.”
Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2021 takes place on Saturday 4th September at the Etihad Stadium. The money raised from this year’s game will help UNICEF fight back against the Covid-19 pandemic by helping to deliver two billion vaccines worldwide. Tickets are available at: www.socceraid.org.uk/tickets