Lukaku development key - Clarke

Lukaku development key - Clarke

Published Sep. 15, 2012 9:16 a.m. ET

Steve Clarke admits his pledge to improve Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku as a player helped persuade him to join West Brom on loan.

Lukaku was also a target for Fulham, Albion's opponents at Craven Cottage on Saturday, and was initially believed to favour remaining in London where he has a house.

But Clarke - number two at Chelsea to Jose Mourinho - convinced the Belgium international that his career would develop in the right direction via a season at The Hawthorns.

Lukaku scored on his debut against Liverpool on the opening day of the season and has recovered from an ankle injury in time to be in contention to face Martin Jol's side.


Clarke said: "I believe Fulham were interested. I'm sure there were a number of other clubs interested.

"I can understand him wanting to stay near his house - he has a place in Cobham. Fulham would have been close, QPR too.

"But it's not about how nice your house is or how comfortable you are in the evening, it's about how well you are improving as a player and that was the most important thing for Romelu.

"He wanted to improve. He felt as though he could do that here which was great for us. He's too young to want a cosy home life. He's 19. He needs to develop his career and get out there.

"I think the fact he left Belgium tells you he's got the ambition and hunger to go anywhere to be a top player."

When asked how he persuaded Lukaku to sign, Clarke said: "My charm! I spoke to the boy a few times and explained how close he would be to the first team at all stages.

"It wouldn't be a case that he'd be out (of the side) a lot and not getting a chance to play.

"I promised that over the course of the training and matches for us that we would improve him as a player. Hopefully I can live up to that promise.

"He promised to do his best for the club and score a lot of goals for us so hopefully he can live up to his promise.

"He's made a good contribution to a really good team start to the season."

Clarke added: "Romelu is far from the finished article. He's got a lot to learn.

"But I think if you take the attributes he's got, and what he's shown so far, he has the potential to be a really good player."