Romelu Lukaku will flourish at Everton in a way he might never have done at Chelsea, Steve Clarke told Goals on Sunday.
Lukaku joined The Toffees for a club record fee of £28million this summer, following a loan stint at Goodison Park last term that yielded 15 Premier League goals.
And Clarke – who managed Lukaku when the Belgian enjoyed a temporary stay at West Brom during the 2012/13 campaign – believes the 21-year-old will be more effective playing for a top-six club as opposed to a title-chasing team.
“I was a little surprised Chelsea chose to let Lukaku go, but knowing Romelu like I do, I know he is a boy who is very confident, very sure of himself and his ability, and insistent on wanting to play all the time,” said Clarke.
“Chelsea brought in Diego Costa, too, which would have made Romelu second striker at best, so he would have spent a lot of time on the bench and that probably forced the issue.
“But Romelu is great when there is space in behind, which perhaps he didn't get at Chelsea.
"Teams go to Stamford Bridge and sit deep but for a team like West Brom, who normally had to sit deep and counter attack, there was always space for Romelu to run into.
“The goal he set-up for Steven Naismith against Arsenal on Saturday came about by doing that and maybe that is a bigger strength for him than holding the ball up, linking the play and finding clever movements in the box.”
Lukaku’s 17 goals in 35 matches helped West Brom finish eighth in the Premier League in 2012/13 but the Baggies stuttered the year after when the former Anderlecht youngster headed to Merseyside.
And Clarke – who lost his job at The Hawthorns midway through that season – says there was never any realistic chance of the Black Country outfit bringing Lukaku to the club permanently.
“The difference between my first season at West Brom and the second was Romelu, as when you lose that amount of goals from your team it is difficult to replace,” added Clarke.
“We didn’t try to buy him because for a club like West Brom, who like to spend wisely and bring in players on short-term contracts, the money was probably a bit too much.
“But we did have a good tussle with Everton when trying to get him back on loan and unfortunately for us he chose them.
“However, I think you can now see with what he has done at Everton that he made the right choice for himself – and he can still become an even stronger player.”
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