Jags admits he tries to steer clear of the on-fire Everton striker during training
Phil Jagielka believes the potential of Romelu Lukaku is “scary” – and revealed he tries to steer clear of the on-fire Everton FC striker during training.
Lukaku has made a blistering start to his Goodison career having signed on a season-long loan from Chelsea last month.
The Belgium international followed his winner at West Ham United last week by marking his first home start by netting twice and providing an assist for Ross Barkley in Monday’s 3-2 win over Newcastle United.
And Jagielka is confident the 20-year-old can develop into one of the Premier League’s most fearsome marksmen.
“He has all the attributes to be a top-class player and he’s still quite a young boy,” said the Everton skipper.
“When you look at him and he’s so physically well developed, you expect him to be in his late 20s but he’s just a young man. It makes it quite scary to think, really.
“Possibly he makes the wrong decisions from time to time, but he’s got everything.
“His vision is superb too, he can hold players off, and he’s someone the other midfielders and attacking players love to play with.
“He’s a fantastic acquisition for us. He’s a great player and has probably taken us up to that next level. If he can keep himself fit and keep himself confident, he could be great for us.”
Jagielka admits Lukaku’s physical prowess and enthusiasm have led to some bruising battles during training at Finch Farm since his arrival.
“He’s definitely a handful,” said the centre-back.
“I try to stay away from him in training, to be honest! “He has all the attributes and he loves playing football, and if you put it all together then it can lead to some interesting days on the training pitch for us defenders.”
Jagielka added: “He’s a real presence up front. First and foremost he’s a fantastic lad, on the pitch and the training field, he’s just desperate to do well.
“Can I see some of Didier Drogba in him? Definitely. But we’re not comparing him to anyone but himself.
“Drogba doesn’t mean anything to us here at Everton. We know a lot about him of course, but we don’t want to draw comparisons.
“Rom’s his own person, his own player, he’s got his own style. He plays a bit different, but I can see why people have made those comparisons – and at the end of the day it’s not a bad guy to be compared to.
“Obviously he wasn’t quite getting a nod at Chelsea and that’s made him even hungrier than he was last season.”
Lukaku scored 17 times in 38 appearances during a season-long loan at West Bromwich Albion last season and figured three times for Chelsea this campaign.
But despite concerns over the form of his strikers, Stamford Bridge manager Jose Mourinho elected to allow Lukaku to leave on loan prompting Everton counterpart Roberto Martinez to pounce.
“When you look at Chelsea they play with one up front,” said Jagielka.
“They’ve just brought in Eto’o, they’ve got Torres and Ba, so it’s difficult. “They have an amazing squad but for whatever reason were not offering Rom as much football as he wanted.
“It makes a difference that he knows he’s going to play. I know that no-one is guaranteed a place, but if he keeps putting in those kind of performances it would take a brave man to drop him. For us that’s perfect. We want people who are hungry.”
Meanwhile, 19-year-old midfielder Ross Barkley has been recognised for his fine start to the season by being named Everton’s Player of the Month award for August.