Romelu Lukaku is starting his third pre-season at Chelsea , this time following a season out on loan that has been declared a success by all concerned.
The 20-year-old striker scored 17 goals in 23 starts and 15 substitute appearances for a West Bromwich Albion side that finished eighth in the Barclays Premier League – vital experience for a player who has so far played 12 games for Chelsea.
Lukaku spoke to Chelsea TV at Cobham where the squad returned from the summer break on Monday, and he outlined the progress he believes he has made.
‘I think I developed my skills, playing in small spaces, big spaces and playing back to goal. I am quicker and stronger, I improved overall and that is a good sign,’ he said.
‘Hopefully I can continue like that in the next years.
‘I set myself a goal and I over achieved it so I am very happy that I did well last year. And now it is up to me to do better this year.
‘It is good to be back. It was always my aim to come back so now that I am here I am happy.’
The Belgian international gives plenty of credit to former Chelsea coach and current West Brom manager Steve Clarke for the way he developed into an influential player during his year away.
‘My role in the team was scoring goals obviously but also holding the ball up for the players, and my back-to-goal play was very important in that area. I learned a lot in that year.
‘Steve Clarke put me on a platform where I could shine and he changed my life, because now the impact I have on some people is a bit bigger. I am very happy that I worked under him because he taught me a lot about the game – the mental aspect and little points I had to improve on, he really took the time with me and I will thank him for all my life.
‘Now I want to improve as much as I can and be an important figure for this club hopefully. I am very ambitious and I am also very young and I want to work hard and play as much as I can but it is up to me. If I keep going like I did last year I think it will not be a problem.
‘I am really determined to do well and hopefully help the team to success.’