Romelu Lukaku: A diamond that needed polishing
Lukaku is a striker born in Italy. Yeah, I have reasons to say that. The outstanding player has scored more goals at this stage of a season then he has ever before in his career.
Amazingly, I have never seen Lukaku play in United the same way he does in Inter Milan. This makes me ask, was he misused and misunderstood at Manchester United?
Well, this is the best part of it all. The Belgium international outscores the record-breaker, Cristiano Ronaldo and takes charge to lead his club in the Serie A title race.
In his first season in Serie A, Lukaku has hit 14 goals in 18 games outscoring Ronaldo. Furthermore, he has also assisted Inter Milan to the top of the League as they look to threaten Juventus’s eight-year dominance.
Why is the 26-year-old performing so well?
The most significant reason behind Lukaku’s impressive start in Italy is his relationship with Antonio Conte.
The pair have admired each other’s abilities for several years and this is the first time they are working together.
Lukaku caught Conte’s eye when the Italian was at Juventus from 2011-2014. He later on made a firm attempt to sign the striker when he became Chelsea’s boss in 2016. Unfortunately, he was beaten to his signing by Manchester United.
“I wanted Romelu very strongly when I was at Chelsea and Juventus.” Said Conte.
“I always said Romelu was a rough diamond that needed work to smooth him out. Now I can get to work on polishing the diamond.”
Lukaku has always possessed power and pace that Conte and his team have worked on developing.
“In Italy, a lot of it is about shape. Knowing where to stand depending on where the ball is on the pitch. A lot of players don’t like that but Lukaku is enjoying it.” Said Smith.
“He is doing all of this tactical work on the training field. He also does all this analysis work on his own trying to find weak spots in the defenders.”
Misused and misunderstood at United.
“I think the way he is viewed in England is extraordinary given his record.” Said Smith.
“He is viewed as sort of a laughing stock but that view of Lukaku is detached from reality.”
“He is an elite forward with 26-years but has been one of the leading strikers in Europe for about eight years.”
‘Even at United, he scored 42 goals in around 90 games. Which is not bad.”
When Lukaku left for Inter, Solskjaer described him as one of the best “target man” strikers in football. However, he suggested he would not operate well in the more fluid frontline he was planning to implement.
Lukaku himself disputed that claim. He insisted he is a better player when facing the goal and Conte has shown faith in him to play as that type of striker.
“Conte and Lukaku are made for each other.” Says Terreur.
“He doesn’t play him as a target man. They try to get him to play out with his feet and when he is running, you cannot stop him.”