On Sunday, Romelu Lukaku gave an exhibition on how to be a forward in the modern game in the Milan derby. He demonstrated his clinical goal scoring ability, his talent to pick out a pass and assist teammates, his technical ability and pace to carry the ball over considerable distances.
On Sunday, Lukaku gave an absolute clinic on how to be a top striker, and why he should be acknowledged as one of the best strikers in Europe.
He was involved in two of the three goals in Inter’s 3-0 win over their city rivals and helped Inter to a four-point lead at the top of the Serie A table.
Before the game, the rhetoric and build up seemed to centre around Lukaku v Ibrahimović after there clash and disagreement in the Coppa Italia last month, but it was the Lukaku show on Sunday.
For the first goal, Lukaku ran onto a ball that was played down Inter’s right and ran into Milan’s box and attempts to square it to Lautaro Martínez, with the pass cut out by Simon Kjaer. The ball comes back to Lukaku who this time plays an exquisite, lofted cross, over Kjaer’s head, where at the far post Martínez heads home, giving Donnarumma in the Milan goal no chance.
The second Inter goal was a wonderful team goal, and the third was a phenomenal solo effort by Lukaku. Who picked up the ball near the centre circle in Milan’s half, ran away from Kessie and ran towards the left side of the Milan box, not allowing Romagnoli to get near and fired the ball low past a despairing Donnarumma into the bottom corner.
His goalscoring throughout his career has been incredible. Though there was criticism of his time at Manchester United, he consistently outperformed his xG, a statistic that is used to suggest how many goals are expected to be scored based on aspects such as where a shot is taken from and how good the chances are. In the 2017-18 Premier League season he scored 16 goals, when his xG was 13.6 and in the 2018-19 season he scored 12 goals when his xG was 11.1.
For Inter, he has just improved further, and his statistics are impressive. Last season his xG was 20.1 and he scored 23 goals, and this season his xG is 15.9 and he has scored 17 goals.
It is also worth noting that in Lautaro Martínez he has found a wonderful strike partner, and together they have been in amazing form. This season, in Serie A they have scored 30 goals between them, which means they have scored over half of Inter’s goals Inter this season.
At Inter other assets of his game have improved. In his last season at Manchester United his pass completion was at 65%, whereas this season that figure is at 72.6%. Furthermore, when you look deeper into the different style of passes, there has been improvement in all areas.
For short passing, he had a percentage completion of 76.1% at his last season at Manchester United, and this season that is now at 82.8%. This season his medium range pass completion is 65% and in his last season in Manchester, he had a medium range pass completion of 54.1%. His long-range passing is not as good as last season, where he had 70.4% pass completion but this season it is 59.5% and that is still better than his last season at United, where his long-range pass completion was 54.8%.
This shows that he has added to other areas of his game, which helps to make a case as to why he is one of the best strikers in Europe. He has goals but has also improved how he contributes to the team, by linking up the play better with his improved passing.
At only 27, you could argue that Lukaku is only getting to his peak, which if true, is scary thought for opposition defences.
Look at the stats, look at the goals themselves, it is surely a fair argument to believe Romelu Lukaku is up there with the absolute best strikers in Europe.