Lukaku set for showdown Chelsea talks

The Merseysiders are among the favourites to sign the Belgian striker on loan should the Europa League finalists deem him not ready to compete for a first team place next season
By Wayne Veysey | Correspondent

Romelu Lukaku will hold showdown talks with Chelsea next week about his destination next season amid a stampede of interest from Premier League clubs.

Every top-flight club outside of the Champions League chasers have expressed an interest in taking the Belgian striker on loan next season, but Everton, Fulham and West Ham are in pole position should the west Londoners conclude that Lukaku is not yet ready to challenge for a first-team place at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea are believed to want Lukaku to fight for a first-team position following a successful loan spell at West Brom, where his 14 league goals have steered the Baggies to eighth in the Premier League.

The Stamford Bridge hierarchy will meet with Lukaku after the domestic season finishes on Sunday to discuss their plans for the 20-year-old and Lukaku is believed to be keen to play regular football as he eyes a starting place for Belgium at the 2014 World Cup.

"I want to join a club that plays European football," the striker told Studio Brussel on Tuesday. "I am very satisfied with my performances this term, but I want to do even better next season. I want to take a step up from West Bromwich.

"I will definitely be with Chelsea during pre-season. We will have to see what's the best solution after that. I was used to playing European football back at Anderlecht and want to have that feeling again."

His temporary employers West Brom are among more than a dozen Premier League clubs who have enquired about taking the powerful forward on loan, with Chelsea dismissing the possibility of him being loaned out to a rival Champions League-calibre club.

However, the likelihood is growing that Lukaku will travel with Chelsea on their pre-season tour, where incoming manager Jose Mourinho will have the chance to run the rule over his new charge at close quarters.

The Belgian has yet to score for the Blues in 12 appearances, only four of which were starts, but he has blossomed in the Midlands and enhanced his reputation as one of the most exciting young strikers in Europe.