In the summer of 2016, Romelu Lukaku was a man in demand. He had scored 25 goals for Everton that season. Only Harry Kane had scored more than the Belgian in the Premier League. Numerous clubs were behind him, headlined by Chelsea and Manchester United. Lukaku moved to the latter for a record fee. Under Jose Mourinho at a big club like United, Lukaku seemed destined to flourish. Two years on that has not been the case.
Lukaku’s time at United has not been a disaster by any stretch. He has scored 42 goals in 96 appearances in all competitions for the Red Devils. The numbers are impressive, but he has failed to be the striker he was in his debut league game. Lukaku scored twice that day against West Ham, which suggested a productive spell at Old Trafford. But that has not transpired, especially last season.Embed from Getty Images
United’s season in totality was a sub-par one, and they finished sixth in the league. Lukaku was injured when new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over in December. He deployed Marcus Rashford as the central striker, and it reaped the rewards. Even after Lukaku returned to fitness, Rashford continued in that position. The Belgian received minutes in the second half, but his starts were not always guaranteed. As Solskjaer looks to overhaul his squad this summer, Lukaku could be out on his way.
Enter Antonio Conte. The Italian was after Lukaku in 2016 when he was the Chelsea manager. Lukaku evaded him then, but the two could finally be united this time. Conte was recently appointed as the Inter manager. The former Juventus manager has returned to the Serie A again. Inter fans will be hoping that he can replicate the success of Turin in Milan.
Mauro Icardi is the striker who is at Conte’s disposal, but all is not smooth there. Issues off the pitch led former manager Luciano Spalletti to alienate Icardi from the squad. There is no about the Argentine’s quality, but the baggage he brings will make Conte think twice. He remains a fan of Lukaku, and he will go after the Belgian again.Embed from Getty Images
It seems as though Lukaku is a fan of Conte as well. “It’s good to see Conte joined Inter, for me, he is the best manager in the world,” Lukaku told Premium Sport recently. “I’ve already decided the future, but I can’t reveal it because I have a contract with Manchester United and because I respect the club.”
Those comments from Lukaku seem pretty indicative of his plans. He is still just 26 and has his whole prime ahead of him. Lukaku remains a deadly finisher, and a healthy, physically imposing player. His career has arguably faltered at United. But as his performances for Belgium show, he can be a deadly weapon to have. Antonio Conte can rejuvenate a player’s career, and Lukaku could be the perfect man in that regard. If this move transpires, both Lukaku and Conte could start a new chapter together.