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Chelsea's decision to loan Romelu Lukaku out still makes perfect sense

Chelsea have come in for criticism for deciding to loan Romelu Lukaku to Everton for the season, but the decision should benefit the club in the long-term.

Dean Mouhtaropoulos

The worst thing about the opinion that Chelsea were wrong to loan out Romelu Lukaku is probably the frequency with which it will be heard - multiple times every time the striker scores a goal for Everton or Belgium, with the prospect of some goals-per-game statistics to accompany them later on in the season. A highly enjoyable affair for all involved.

Some research into the business of loans, however, reveals the shocking truth: at the end of his spell with Everton, Lukaku will actually return to Chelsea. The West London club have actually retained the rights to the player, meaning that they still actually own him and will be able to use him in the future, with his development having been aided from being an almost certain starter at Everton.

This seems to have been lost on many of the people taking the short-term view that Chelsea were mad to let him go, but there are also other issues. Demba Ba and Samuel Eto'o may be out of form, but they have not simply turned into bad players overnight in the manner of the third wheel in that strikeforce, Fernando Torres.

It's also possible that Lukaku, in his current form at least, is better suited to a club like Everton than he is to Chelsea. He is a remarkable talent, but a clumsy one, with a heavy touch and questionable decision making. His best games and goals all come when he has a great deal of space, which teams are far more willing to allow when playing a mid-table side rather than one competing for the title.

In lazy comparisons to Didier Drogba, many have assumed that Lukaku would be the obvious choice to lead this new Chelsea side's attack, but as well as the rest of the team being very different, the clever touch and supreme technique that complemented Drogba's physique so well are not yet present in the Belgian's game. It's hard to see him being Chelsea's best option at breaking down a deep and determined defence, as they are required to do in most of their bread-and-butter games in the league.

It was a stretch to predict that Lukaku would be the overwhelming best option for Chelsea's frontline, but it's also a stretch to assume that he and Chelsea's current strikers will continue in the same form for the rest of the season. When May comes, Lukaku will return a far better player than he left, and probably a lot less raw. That will be more than worth a year of finding alternative options for.

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Liverpool's start, achieved without Luis Suarez, and reliant on some early form of highly inconsistent players such as Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho, means that it's difficult to gauge their progress in the season so far. Most of the hopes for Liverpool's season have now been placed on the Suarez-Sturridge partnership.

More from our team blogs: Liverpool blog The Liverpool Offside

In their debut against Manchester United, chances were created at will but wasted, while they've looked far more impressive in the following games. The conventional rhetoric states that, having taken one game to gel, the two are now a deadly combination ready to destroy Premier League defences and fire Liverpool into a title challenge.

This is highly debatable - Sturridge has always been in possession of two weaknesses: firstly, he has always flickered in and out of form on a seemingly arbitrary basis, while secondly, a trait he shares with Luis Suarez, he is extremely selfish. The latter is not always a bad thing - Cristiano Ronaldo is perhaps the ultimate example of someone who prefers to go alone but has every right to do so, and with both of Liverpool's forwards better at shooting and dribbling than passing and crossing, their style clearly makes sense.

Since coming back, however, Suarez has moved away from his earlier style and into a deeper role, adding clever flicks into his game to avoid too much of a clash with Sturridge. It seems to have been effective, but the question remains whether the England forward's form is always going to be worth persisting with such a style. Sturridge can be a fine soloist, but not so much as Suarez, and likewise the Uruguayan is always going to be better as the furthest forward rather than being tasked as the creative type.

Considering the offers Liverpool rejected for their main man over the summer, it's surprising that they're not playing him in a starring role, and while the duo have shown some early promise, sidelining a player supposedly worth £50m seems an odd route to take. The one obvious advantage is that should, as rumoured, teams come back in for Suarez in January, Liverpool will have made him far more expendable.