Romelu Lukaku – his strengths and limitations
The Everton striker completed his move to Manchester United this weekend. Where does it end for the Belgian tank? Will he reach the desired level or will he crumble under the pressure? There are many factors in play which will determine the outcome. Some outside of his control. But there is enough which Lukaku can be responsible for. I will discuss his strengths & limitations, his relationship with Mourinho and the link-up play with Pogba down below.
Let’s start off with his strengths. Which is in the name. Lukaku is, in the most physical challenging competition across Europe, a player who stands out with his presence. An remarkable achievement on his own. Being strong is vastly different than using your body wisely. Romelu is the perfect combination of those two factors and managed to score many goals purely because of this. And the Belgian is pretty rapid for someone his size. You would expect that such an experienced playing-style comes with a declining veteran of the game, but he just 24. Realistically, he could play for another ten seasons in the Premier League, and with his goal tally already. Surpassing Alan Shearer (260 goals) as the all-time Premier League goal scorer is an tough challenge, but not impossible.
In the modern world of football, it’s somewhat naïve to think that players will remain at the same club for years. Lukaku is no exception to that rule, who already played for Anderlecht, Chelsea, WBA (loan spell), Everton and now Manchester United at age 24. But an player with his specific qualities is a typical Premier League striker. I would be surprised if he starts playing abroad in the upcoming years.
Romelu netted 85 times in the Premier League in 186 appearances An impressive tally already, even before mentioning those goals were with respectively WBA (17) and Everton (68). He scored 25 times in the previous campaign, only Harry Kane (Spurs: 29), scored more. Latter played less minutes, but was employed by the number two of the rankings who scored an grand total of 86 goals while Lukaku played for Everton, which ended up seventh scoring just 62 goals.
He is creeping up the top-10 and especially on Rooney (198) and Shearer (260). Could he take them on? His conversion rate (shots needed per goal) has been increasing every season since 2014 until 2017 (from 13.2% to 29.1%).
Hypnotically, Lukaku remains with United for six seasons averaging 23 goals per season. Meaning he would end up on the second place of the all-time top scorers with 233 goals in the PL. One thing is clear, Lukaku easily finds the net and if Mourinho will provide him with enough support. I am convinced that he could get 223 goals, or even more.
His upcoming partnership with Mourinho could either make him, or break him. The Portuguese manager has an impressive win record, but plays rather defensively. This could be troubling for the Belgian striker who strives with the right amount of support, but could be drowning as a lone striker. Mourinho always plays 4-2-3-1 and didn’t change his philosophy last year, when he was employed by Manchester United. He had Zlatan Ibrahimovic as a striker, but even he had some troubles in the start with his rather conservative approach. The biggest difference between the Swedish striker and Lukaku is very simple: technique. While both are taller than most buildings, Zlatan combines this with an astounding technique and first touch, something which is the limitation of Lukaku. He often looked uneasy with the ball throughout his career. He keeps improving on this, but his flaws could be easily displayed if Mourinho decides to focus on defensive stability in the majority of the games.
One of his closest friends and possible saviour in this process, Paul Pogba, will be vital in the upcoming season. Zlatan was fine on his own, but Lukaku needs more help when going forward. The French midfielder scored five and assisted four in the previous campaign but the team was being carried by Zlatan. So his lack of goals and assists was compensated for, but he needs to step up his game for his friend up top.
To summarize my thoughts: Lukaku is an young, physical impressive player who needs the right amount of support to excel and it’s up Mourinho to make him comfortable as lone striker. I honestly believe that we are looking at the next number two of the all-time top scorers list if he continues to improve on his goal tally. Romelu Lukaku, in the right circumstances, could carry Mourinho and Manchester United. It’s now up to his manager to give him the stage to perform.