Hawkeye Sidekick

Will Romelu Lukaku deliver for United?

romelu_lukaku
Lukaku primed to make United impact

Romelu Lukaku is a Manchester United player. A surprise given that many had thought a deal to Chelsea was a done deal at the back end of last season. A signing which looks shrewd from United, a player with experience of the league, a player with a proven goal scoring record in the league and a player whose age profile (24) and powerful physique means that the Belgian international has all the attributes to be a success at the football club. Hawkeye Sidekick analyzes the player in more depth.

Early Career

Lukaku’s talent at an early age prompted Lierse and then Anderlecht to secure his services. His Anderlecht career was brief but provided suitors with evidence of his skill set with thirty-three goals in seventy-three appearances. Chelsea stepped in to secure the player in 2011 but it is fair to say that the move never reached the heights that both the player and the club expected.

The Belgian was a bit part player at Chelsea and it was no surprise when a loan move to WBA materialized in 2012 to secure game minutes and confidence. The loan move paid dividends for both parties as Lukaku scored seventeen goals from thirty-five appearances. A frustrating summer ensued and Lukaku was again on loan but this time to Everton in 2013 where the player would make the move permanent.

Lukaku has grown in stature with Everton with each passing season and his twenty-five EPL goal haul last season was the signal for teams to look again at the player and secure his services. At 24, Lukaku is at the peak of his powers and his reluctance to sign a contract extension with Everton to pursue his ambitions in the Champions League and vying for league title honors meant a departure from Goodison Park was inevitable.

The Strengths

There are several upsides to the player from initial analysis. Manchester United have bought a player whose pace, power and ability to score goals in the penalty area will be a key asset for the team next season particularly in league games against mid to lower positioned teams in the league who will try to frustrate the team at Old Trafford. Lukaku’s presence in the penalty area will create chances.

Lukaku’s ability to run the channels is evident in his average 8.87 KM cover per game last season in the league. When on form, Lukaku is a nightmare for central defenders to contend with. His ability to run with the ball with pace was evident in his strike against Manchester City last season when he left Gael Clichy for dead before dispatching past Claudio Bravo. A goal created out of nothing.

The ability to make goals out of nothing was seen on international duty for Belgium as the striker stunning efforts against Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina. His willingness to make the runs into the box were rewarded with numerous goal for both club and country.

Powerful on the ground, potent in the air. United have on paper a superb front man who could potentially link play well for the likes of Rashford, Martial, Mata and Pogba. Exciting prospect and offers something different to Zlatan last season who was commanding but perhaps lacked the pace to seriously test opponent defenses in behind.

Weakness

During his Chelsea and Everton careers, the media reported at times Lukaku being unsettled and unhappy. While there were mitigating factors for some of the unrest (lack of playing time in the first team), the sequence of events leading to his Everton departure were less than ideal. He held the football club to ransom by mulling over a contract that the Belgian had no intention of signing. No player is bigger than the football club and Lukaku must knuckle down and train hard to improve his overall game and ability to influence games week in, week out.

Goals Scored Last Season

Romelu Lukaku scored twenty-five goals for Everton last season and scored goals against Arsenal, Bournemouth, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Hull, Leicester City, Manchester City, WBA, Southampton, Sunderland, Tottenham and Watford.