If a vocal minority on Twitter had their way, you would believe that Romelu Lukaku was the Belgian Robert Earnshaw – an inconsistent striker who only scores against ‘small clubs’ and has a comically bad first touch. The truth is much simpler: Lukaku has been one of the most prolific strikers in Europe over the last eight years.
That isn’t to say that Lukaku doesn’t have faults in his game, he does. But we’re not here to focus on the negatives, for it’s the Belgian’s 27th birthday – an age where any good striker should be at the peak of his powers, which is exactly where Lukaku is.
Purchased by Inter in the summer to replace Mauro Icardi following the Argentinian’s acrimonious departure to Paris Saint-Germain, Lukaku has done exactly the job he was brought in to do: bang in the goals.
Lukaku has scored 17 goals in 25 Serie A appearances this season – averaging an impressive 0.7 goals per league game, a feat he hadn’t achieved since his final season with Everton in 2016/17. He has formed a deadly strike partnership with Lautaro Martinez, with their consistent goalscoring contributions helping Inter to mount their first real Scudetto challenge in nearly a decade (before I Nerazzurri hit a rough patch of form, this is just what they always do).
In fact, so key has Lukaku been to Inter this season that he has played nearly every minute of nearly every game. Part of what makes him so important for I Nerazzurri (and thus, a world-class striker) is his ability to score in nearly every situation. Put in a cross to him, he’ll head it home. Earn a penalty, he’ll calmly dispatch it. Left foot? Right foot? Doesn’t matter, he can score with both.
Lukaku’s also spent the season dispelling the myth that he isn’t a ‘big game’ scorer. He scored in both of the Milan derbies, bagged a brace away at Napoli and scored the equalising goal in a Champions League fixture against Barcelona (which they would go on to lose). The 27-year-old has also played a role in others scoring, contributing a total of five assists over the course of the season, with three of these being for his strike partner, Martinez.
His consistent goalscoring form, in addition to the amount of passion he exudes on the pitch, have earned him the adoration of Inter fans – something he could never quite achieve at Manchester United. He has played an important role in what should hopefully mark the beginning of I Nerazzurri’s renaissance, where they attempt to restore themselves as one of Europe’s top clubs.
Lukaku has never really had a team to call ‘home’. He was always going to move on to bigger and better things at Anderlecht, he couldn’t break into Chelsea’s first-team, he was only at West Brom on loan, Everton was seen as a stepping stone club and he never settled at Manchester United. Hopefully with Inter, he has finally found a team he can call ‘home’ and win trophies with.