Romelu Lukaku has become the complete striker after learning from his “bad experiences.”
That is the view of Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta who has seen a remarkable transformation in Lukaku from his first spell at the club as a teenage prospect into the £97.5m superstar.
Lukaku did not get much of a look-in after joining Chelsea in 2011, went away on loan, joined Everton and then went to Manchester United before his last spell at Inter Milan really established him as one of Europe’s elite.
The Chelsea striker marked his return with a goal at Arsenal and Azpilicueta now believes Lukaku’s all round game has improved because he has been shaped by some of the setbacks in his career.
Blues defender Azpilicueta said: “With the years you gain maturity. You learn from bad experiences. When you experience different things you gain this maturity.
“Romelu has always been a great personality, willing to improve his own game, trying to help the team. I have no doubt he’s going to be a key player for us.
“We are so happy to have him this season. You can see his strengths, his personality, his goalscoring, his assists, the way he plays. Even though Arsenal was his first game and he only had one week of training.
“But he knows the club. He has been here before. He has the ambition and the desire to be successful and help the team keep winning trophies.
“When he was at Chelsea the first time you have to take into consideration it was a different group. He was very young. It wasn’t easy for him. But he worked his way to be at the top. A few other loans to other teams and then he was sold. Another country, to Italy, to prove his worth.
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“Now he’s back already to the Premier League and he showed his quality. In life, you grow. You gain experience. You learn where to go and where not to go on the pitch, to be more dangerous.
“Romelu has always shown his personality. With age you become more confident and now he’s in a different stage of his career.”
Azpilicueta, 31, has been at Chelsea for nine years, has already won two Premier League titles, knows what it takes to be champions and the expectation levels at Stamford Bridge.
Azpilicueta said: “It’s a challenge. We know that last season in the Premier League we finish far from where we want to be. We finished fourth. We have to show every day we are ready.
“We face a tough challenge on Saturday but we believe in ourselves. We are confident.
“It was a short pre-season. After the Euros a few of us arrived late. We didn’t have much time to train. We have been working hard to get fit for the whole season.
“We know that every time we train or play we have to be at our best. This is our responsibility. We have to show we are ready for the challenge.”
Turning his attention to the trip to Anfield, Azpilicueta added: “It’s a big game. We know that both teams come from two wins. We didn’t concede goals. Let’s prepare well. We have to go there and show our quality.”