Liverpool and Chelsea Fight Over £25.2m Strike Sensation

Anfield and Stamford Bridge sides in battle to land Belgian teenage goal machine.

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The two clubs, who go head to head at Stamford Bridge on Sunday with Fernando Torres and Luis Suarez expected to make their full debuts, both enquired about the Belgian wonderkid during the January window. UK understands that Liverpool and Chelsea have indicated they will continue to pursue one of the world’s most coveted young players in the summer despite the respective purchases earlier this week of Torres for £50m, Andy Carroll for £35m and Suarez for £22.7m.

“What happened on deadline day does not change anything,” said a source close to the Lukaku camp.

“We know which clubs are interested and Chelsea and Liverpool remain at the front of the queue.

“Both clubs are planning for the future and know that you need lots of top strikers and competition for places to win big trophies.”

Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham all made contact with Anderlecht in January and lead the Europe-wide chase for a striker who is valued at €30m (£25.2m) by his club.

Belgium’s most successful club are resigned to losing their prized asset this summer but recognise that it will be a good time to cash in on the 17-year-old, who has a release clause in his contract in 2013.

Lukaku told UK last month that he would love to play for any of the big clubs in the Premier League and a switch to England in the summer is “more likely” than a move to Spain or Germany, where he has been courted by Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, respectively.

Insiders believe a switch could be agreed within “a few months” and completed as soon as the transfer window opens in June.

Chelsea have long been the favourites to sign boyhood Blues fan Lukaku, whose style of play has been likened to that of his hero and Stamford Bridge talisman Didier Drogba.

Ironically, it would require the departure of either Drogba or Nicolas Anelka to free up some space for Lukaku in the Chelsea forward line.

“Torres, Drogba, Anelka and Lukaku is one too many,” added the source. “But Torres, Anelka and Lukaku is perfect.”

It is a slightly different story at Anfield. Liverpool director of strategy Damien Comolli is a huge admirer of Lukaku and believes his height, power and pace are ideally suited to the Premier League.

At 6ft 3in, the Belgium international is similar in stature to Carroll and can only play in the centre-forward position, but Comolli has made it clear that he wants to entice the cream of young European talent to Anfield with potential re-sale value.

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