It is February. He is a season in his life in Italian football and Romelu already has 17 goals.
Recent form suggests that he has no intention of stopping soon. The big Belgian is back.
While Manchester United was looking for a loan seeker on the day of the deadline, Lukaku was busy firing Inter Milan back to the top of the Serie A.
Romelu Lukaku is back at the height of his powers and shoots all cylinders for Inter Milan
After concluding his Old Trafford chapter last summer, Lukaku left the Premier League with a point to prove. Far too often the powerful attacker has been criticized for his bulky frame and asked for his movement and first touch.
Ole Gunnar Solkskjaer also had questions to answer. The Norwegian seemed to leave the £ 75 million man far too easily, despite the apparent lack of attacking staff at the club.
Now, with the Red Devils putting their hopes on Chinese Super League Odion Ighalo, Lukaku has hit 17 Series A goals and is on the verge of Cristiano Ronaldo and Ciro Immobile for the Golden Boot.
The story of Lukaku’s revival begins with one manager who wanted him above everyone else. Antonio Conte was furiously left behind in the summer of 2017, when his then Chelsea side was poked by United for Lukaku’s signature.
Conte had drawn up plans around Lukaku with the intention that the Belgians would become the center of the attack on his return home at Stamford Bridge. It has never materialized.
Antonio Conte wanted Lukaku since his time as Chelsea manager and never gave up hope
Series A games – 23
Serie A goals – 17
Series A minutes per goal – 116 ‘
Champions League matches – 5
Champions League goals – 2
Coppa Italia games – 3
Coppa Italia goals – 2
Although Lukaku’s love affair with United would fade quickly, Conte never ceased to be an admirer. After being installed at the helm with Inter last summer, the Italian Lukaku immediately made his top priority for transfers.
This time he got his wish. Conte would admit later: ‘I wanted Romelu very strong when I was in Chelsea, even back in Juventus. I wanted him, now I can start polishing the diamond.
“I always said that Romelu was a rough diamond that needed work to smooth it out. Lautaro Martinez is the same. These boys are 26 and 22 years old, they are still young. “
True to his word, Conte started the polishing process and the diamond is shining right now.
Conte works on both Lukaku as an individual and Martinez as a strike partner and has created the most formidable front line in Italian football. The duo has 28 league goals and counts.
Lukaku played in every game for Inter this season and eight times in Europe. Confidence evaporated by the inconsistent end of his permanent term of office – sitting in the bank for Marcus Rashford – has now returned with a vengence.
Lukaku’s Manchester United tenure saw a miserable end, bench for Marcus Rashford
With the goals inside and Lukaku looking fitter and sharper than ever before, parallels are drawn with the period of the striker in Everton. At Goodison, Lukaku was made heavily dependent and delivered as a result. His goal record for the Toffees became productive and won the Premier League Golden Boot along the way.
Attention to detail was a key objective of Inter, and this paid off after the club saw something that United medical staff just didn’t do: Lukaku’s digestive system was not functioning properly.
With a carefully composed and completely renewed diet, together with an adapted conditioning program, Lukaku saw incredibly more than half a stone in just 12 days.
His new, agile frame was recently broadcast worldwide after the new talisman rattled the back of the net in the derby with fierce rivals AC Milan. Inter came back from the dead to win the 4-2 clash, with Lukaku entering the record books as only the sixth player ever scored in two Milan derbies in one season.
Bagging in the 93rd minute to seal the remarkable victory, Lukaku tore off his shirt and held a corner flag up, pointing to the misty Milanese sky. The scene was biblical.
Lukaku is said to now spend less time in a weight-based part of the gym and spend more hours on body exercises and vigorous movements.
During his unified days, body criticism Lukaku received so much that he responded via social media. Lukaku posted a topless image of himself on Snapchat and hit back on the trolls by displaying a rippling six-pack and Olympic-like muscles.
Yet those days seem long gone. Lukaku no longer feels the need to prove himself and hit back with every accusation thrown in his direction. Now the 26-year-old simply lets his full gas play.
The criticism of his conditioning hit Lukaku so much at United that he responded publicly
With records tumbling, Lukaku became the fastest player ever to reach 20 goals for Inter Milan, with only 29 games needed to reach the milestone.
To compare the performance, the great Brazilian Ronaldo needed 31 matches, Hernan Crespo needed 36 and club legend Christian Vieri had to perform 38 times to reach the same figure.
As it stands, Lukaku and Inter are currently at the top of the Serie A table, ahead of rivals Juventus.
That is Juve’s dominance on Italian football, the old lady is going for the ninth consecutive title this season.
However, times are ripe for change. The stronghold of Turin is declining, while the balance of power is shifting.
The future of Italian football is perhaps still striped, but it looks increasingly likely that it is in the colors black and royal blue. Inter Milan and Lukaku are back with the elite.