Chelsea would have had to change their style completely if they did sign Manchester United-bound Romelu Lukaku, according to Danny Higginbotham. Lukaku is set to be reunited with Jose Mourinho in the coming days after the Red Devils agreed a deal worth £90m with Everton on Thursday (6 July).
Lukaku, a boyhood Chelsea supporter, was believed to have had his heart set on a return to Stamford Bridge.
Blues boss Antonio Conte is angry with the Chelsea hierarchy over their perceived failure to capture Lukaku, but Higginbotham says the Belgium international would have forced the Italian to rip up the style that served him so well last season as he is not a similar player to Diego Costa, who is poised to return to Atletico Madrid.
"I think that, when you look at the styles and how they like to play, it would have been interesting if Lukaku ended up at Chelsea because they would have had to change their style completely," Higginbotham told talkSPORT. "If he would have been going in as a replacement for Diego Costa I think he's a very different player than Diego Costa.
"We saw last season, a lot of the time, Diego Costa looked after the two centre backs – was dropping in deep at times – and created space for the two wide players either side of him to get in behind."
Chelsea would have to make wholesale changes in order to accommodate Lukaku, who scored 87 goals during his time at Everton, but Higginbotham thinks the former Anderlecht starlet will be able to help Manchester United play in a number of different ways.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic performed admirably during his spell at Old Trafford but his lack of mobility hindered those around him on occasion. The arrival of Everton talisman Lukaku will provide United with much-needed speed up top, and that in turn will give Mourinho license to set his side out in a variety of systems.
"The one thing you would say at times last year with [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic – I thought he was absolutely magnificent – but the way that Manchester United played Ibrahimovic found himself quite isolated," added Higginbotham.
"Players were dropping deep at times to defend and the gap between the players and Ibrahimovic was quite big because he hasn't got the pace to get in behind. Whereas I think now, with Manchester United, there are a couple of things.
"If they do sign Lukaku it gives them the strength to be able to play more counter-attacking football – where Lukaku likes to play on the shoulder or can even give defenders a couple of yards head start.
"But not just that, if Lukaku is stretching the game, if you are playing against him, the last thing you want to do is leave space in behind so you drop deeper. What happens then is the opposition defence and midfield becomes more and more separated."