At the moment, Lukaku plays for the club that I prefer to loathe: Manchester United (yes, I said it…in fact, it got worse when Mourinho signed on to be the manager). He wears the number 9 shirt, which means he’s the team’s main striker (Hey…to those who want to talk about ‘other’ number 9s…shut it! I don’t have time for that argument). Anyway, he recently scored his 100th goal in the English Premier League, making him the 28th player to do so in the last 26 years (Just 28? With the thousands of strikers playing in that time?). Also, he becomes the youngest foreigner to do so and the fifth youngest player overall to achieve this same feat. Having declared my dislike for the team he currently plays for, is this an appreciation article? Yes…yes it is.
I like to be a neutral…sometimes. First of all, I’m a football/soccer fan, before an Arsenal one. So I like to give credit when it is due. Doesn’t matter what team you play in…if you’re a great player, you’re a great player…and Romelu Lukaku is a great player.
For years, I wished Wenger would sign him from Everton. Year after year, he gave further evidence of how well he was developing and how good he could be. A bulky frame that is capable of being quick and always primed to score is a winner any day. Add the fact that his best years are yet to come and you can imagine my frustration that he’s in Manchester rather than North London (I love Aubameyang but Arsenal should have spent 60 million on Lukaku 2 years ago…would have been a smarter buy).
Like most strikers with his price tag, he’s had his critics. Some believe that his touch is bad, or that he can’t hold the ball up well enough, or that he’s bad with combination play, or that he misses the easy chances, or that he can’t score against the big teams, or he’s not even good enough to play in a big team. It’s a growing list of jabs that he has had to take every year since leaving Chelsea but like most good players, he’s answered every critic since arriving at Man United.
His goal against Chelsea showed he can score against big teams, his first touch as he scored against Swansea recently put paid to whatever talk about his bad touch, the link-up with Martial, Sanchez, Pogba and Lingard in various games this season has been great to watch so he must be good at combination play, plus he’s bagged over 20 goals this season for United so there goes the argument of being able to play for a big club.
My favourite thing about Lukaku is that he’s always keen to prove critics wrong; that’s an ambition for him. In every game, it’s about shutting doubters up, one at a time. This is a trait not many players possess (if only Arsenal players could be like this every game). Mourinho recently hailed him as one of only 2 players in the United squad that has played at a ‘high level’ and I agree with that 100%.
Some years back, I didn’t like talking about C.Ronaldo, because he played for United. I never wanted to admit that he was my favourite player. The moment he left to Real Madrid, I came out boldly from my closet (lol). I’m not saying that Lukaku is my favourite player (CR7 is still the man), but I have to state that it’s time he gets the credit that is due. We’re looking at a player that could seriously make a difference in Russia this summer and have an explosive start to league football next season. He could win the European Golden Boot at some point. You know why? Because he’s not 25 yet and he has come this far. I’m excited to see what his peak will look like. We all should be.