Lukaku the Perfect Fit for Conte’s Inter: Here’s Why
By Katlego Mereko
The Belgian striker has been rumoured with a move to the Serie A ever since Antonio Conte was appointed manager at Inter Milan, replacing Luciano Spalletti after the later was sacked.
Under more normal circumstances, Inter Milan would not have spent the current transfer window looking at securing a main striker in the mould of Edin Dzeko or indeed Romelu Lukaku, for in ex-club captain, Mauro Icardi, they had had a reliable goal-scorer who has plundered a total of 115 goals in 5 seasons for Nerazzuri.
However, all unravelled last season when he was stripped off the captain’s armband in the second half of the season, owing largely to tensions exacerbated by his seemingly odious wife and agent Wanda Nara. Icardi’s relationship with Inter as it stands is broken beyond repair and now the club is looking to offload the prolific Argentine in order to pursue new striking targets.
Enter Romelu Lukaku, the Manchester United striker who has been rather underwhelming at United since his big money move from Everton in 2017. 23 goals in all competitions in his first season under then United coach Jose Mourinho was followed up by a paltry 14 goals the next season –a far cry from his 65 goals in the seasons in Merseyside.
Even though his numbers at United after two seasons may be enough for some strikers, there seems to exist a sense that the Congolese by descent should have elevated his game in Manchester and become the team’s focal point for years to come. Under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, however, that opportunity seems to have passed, with the latter preferring more mobile strikers already on the books of the club in the shape of Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.
For the past few weeks, Inter has been in difficult negotiations with Manchester United in attempts to secure the burly forward’s ‘John Hancock’ and should all eventually go well, here are three reasons why Lukaku would be the ideal striker to lead Conte’s revolution at San Siro.
Perfect for Conte’s Counter-Attacking Game
While Jose Mourinho fancied Lukaku a player in the exact mould of Didier Drogba, the Belgian’s was somewhat different, as where the Cote d’Ivoire and Chelsea legend excelled when hovering inside the box and playing with his back to goal, Lukaku is more adept at collecting the ball from deep and running at goal, usually in a counter-attacking move.
It is one of the unfortunate ironies of Mou’s time in Manchester that in the 26-year old he possessed a striker well-equipped for his counter-attacking football and yet failed to use him effectively to his strength.
Under Conte’s similar tactics, the Belgian forward could reap the benefits of playing a role similar to the one under Roberto Martinez at Everton and in the Belgian national team.
In addition, Lukaku is not a lazy player, being typical or his runs and dribbles at Everton. This is a trait Conte will appreciate as he is known to love hardwork.
One of Lukaku’s attributes has always been his body strength. The striker arrived at Chelsea from Anderlecht as a ripped 18-year old, and while he has lost much of that muscle-tone, the naturally bulky forward has refined his strength in the one of the most physically demanding leagues in the world.
This means he will have no problem dealing with the famously gritty defences of the Italian league, especially as rivals Juventus have added arguably the best young defender in the world in Matthijs De Ligt.
For all his perceived profligacy at Manchester United, this is a man who has netted an impressive 113 goals in 252 Premier League games. To put in this context, Didier Drogba recorded 104 goals in 254 games during his stint at Chelsea.
That said, Lukaku will not struggle to produce the goods in front of goal should the mooted €75 Million be ratified.