CHELSEA could be about to end their search for a Didier Drogba replacement after a stunning pre-season showing by Romelu Lukaku.
The 19-year-old Belgian, bought last summer for an incredible £18million, scored twice in Thursday morning's opening pre-season friendly at Seattle Sounders.
Roberto Di Matteo had been expected to send the youngster out on loan to gain experience.
However, the showing suggested Lukaku – a reported target for Fulham - may be ready to fight for his place in Chelsea's first team.
Di Matteo said: “It's interesting to see [Lukaku] playing with the team. We've had a talk at the start of pre-season and I'm very keen to see him perform for us, then we will see what's going to happen.
“He is a danger and scores goals. That's what a striker has to do in the team.
“We still have Fernando [Torres] and [Daniel] Sturridge to come back so we have options.
“We can't forget he is a young boy but I have been pleased and he is an interesting player for us.”
Lukaku was originally bought with a view to replacing Drogba.
However, former boss Andre Villas-Boas left him out of Chelsea's Champions League squad last season, and he was given little chance to shine in the Premier League.
If Lukaku is considered to be worth the gamble it could save Chelsea a fortune, with the asking price for Port's Hulk pushing beyond £40m.
Di Matteo also praised new boys Eden Hazard and Marko Marin - both of whom scored in the 4-2 win over Sounders.
He added: “It's good for them in their first game for their new club. It was good to have a good understanding with their new team-mates and I am pleased with the match
“Hazard is a versatile player, he can play in the [midfield] role he played tonight but also out wide.
“Last season we didn't have too many options in the role he played apart from Juan [Mata], so it's great for the club and the team to have different options.”
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