Explosive, powerful and prolific, Romelu Lukaku is everything that Manchester United have missed over the past few seasons. The price tag of £75m may seem steep but when you look at the Belgian’s Premier League numbers, it could be seen as a bargain.
Despite only being 24 years of age, Lukaku has already scored 85 goals in the Premier League, 15 off the exclusive Centurion club. Only 6 of those 85 goals came from the penalty spot.
Many fans have lambasted the Belgian for his notoriously bad first touch, but clearly, his stats regard that as irrelevant. Let’s break them down further; 42 of his goals came with his left foot, 24 with his right foot, 1 from a free kick and 18 via headers. Through his Premier League career, Lukaku has maintained a 45% shot accuracy, averaging 0.46 goals per match.
These are numbers that only the greats possessed at such a tender age. He’s only one of four men in Premier League history to have scored more than 80 goals before the age of 24, his compatriots are; Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and of course, Wayne Rooney.
For the entirety of last season, Manchester United deployed the incomprehensible target man Zlatan Ibrahimović up front. Even though the Swede has his unrivalled qualities, his limitations hindered and guided the style of play Mourinho deployed last season.
Ibrahimović’s severe lack of pace and acceleration forced Jose to play a laboured possession-based game at Manchester United. A style of play that doesn’t suit Manchester United’s club philosophy at all. Ibrahimović often dropped deep into midfield to link up with the midfielders, instead of being in the 6-yard box putting away crosses.
Romelu Lukaku’s 6 foot 3 frame offers the perks of Ibrahimović’s hold up play. The Belgian may not be able to technically produce the same passes as the Swede or display the same level of control, but he’ll be able to occupy the two CBs in a similar fashion. This will, in turn, create space for the wingers to run into.
With Romelu Lukaku as the focal point of the attack, a front three of Martial, Lukaku and Rashford would stretch any defence in the world. That pace stationed high up the pitch, allows United to break at any time at rapid speeds.
The front three could also interchange as all three of them are competent at playing in wide positions as well as central ones. Lukaku offers Manchester United the much-needed versatility that Ibrahimović couldn’t. This means Jose Mourinho can seamlessly switch between playing possession football and counter attacking.
Lukaku’s work rate also suggests that the 24-year old will adhere to Mourinho’s tiresome off the ball demands. Always pressing and covering passing lanes will be Lukaku’s role in defence, something he already does at Goodison Park.
There are doubts over his technical ability, but it’s almost guaranteed that Lukaku will score goals in a system garnered to his needs. At Everton, he was able to score 10 or more goals in five consecutive seasons, imagine what he could do with the likes of Paul Pogba, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata feeding him creatively at Manchester United.
Lukaku has the ability to fire Manchester United to the top of the table once again.