Romelu Lukaku’s departure to Inter Milan for a significant fee has been confirmed. Though, some at United will feel pleased that a smart business move has been executed, time will soon wash it clear that it’s a silly football move.
A love story that started with Jose Mourinho as United manager turned sour and has ended with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Romelu Lukaku’s transfer to Inter Milan is a done deal and while the United board may be pleased with their business nous in recouping most of the money spent on securing the signature of Harry Maguire, the joke actually is on them.
BREAKING: Inter Milan confirm the signing of Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) August 8, 2019
Internazionale’s gain is Manchester United’s loss.
Just flogged out of the back door to Italy is a proven goalscorer, the likes of which Solskjaer no longer has in his team and is likely to miss when the season gets to its thick, ugly end.
Let it be made clear from the start: the Belgium international has not been perfect since he moved to Old Trafford but he has delivered the goods. 28 goals in 66 Premier League matches is not a bad return for someone deemed not good enough,
Although striker particularly looked lost under Mourinho last season, – not knowing where to run, unable to hold the ball up and was oftentimes ineffective, His situation changed momentarily when the Solskjaer took over.
Ole deployed the former Chelsea target man as an impact substitute, similar to the role the ‘baby faced assassin’ perfected when he wore the jersey for the Red Devils.
It worked wonders with Lukaku scoring three goals in his first three appearances with Ole at the wheel.
It didn’t end there.
At one point, the Belgian’s scoring ratio for the Reds – 36 in 76 appearances gave him an average of a strike every 2.1 matches – which was better than the boss’ record in his legendary playing days; the treble winner netted every 2.9 games with his 126 goals in 366 outings.
It appeared as though it was only a matter of time before Lukaku would be back in the starting XI.
However, instead of things to get better, it got worse. By the time the season drew to a lame close for United, it was evident that the manager had decided to take the team to a different destination and Big Rom was not needed on board.
However, a good striker just does not turn terrible overnight.
OFFICIAL: Lukaku signs for Inter ⚫️🔵
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 8, 2019
Lukaku proved in his first season that he can score goals. He got 27 goals that season. There’s no question that he’s got that ability.
Man United, like all sides that are expected to be challenging for honours, need to have a striker that’s capable of guaranteeing 25, 27 goals a season and the departed Belgian is the last United player to do that. He could have done it again. But now he is gone.
With Rashford, Lingard, Greenwood, Martial and Alexis Sanchez, the Red Devils have no one that can regularly find the back of the net.
Is there no one else who thinks Solskjaer could have handled the Lukaku situation differently? Yes, Lukaku’s problem may have started way before Ole came into the picture at Old Trafford.
But it was magnified by the manager’s dynamic system. The system demanded nimble, fast players upfront who will look to win the ball back up the park.
But the striker’s significant weight gain before Belgium’s World Cup campaign last summer did not favour such. In December, even Lukaku admitted his decision to bulk up for the tournament hampered his form for United.
‘In the Premier League, I cannot play with the same amount of muscle as international football,’ Lukaku admitted. ‘That was something that when I came back I knew straight away:
‘Nah, I cannot play in this style like this.’ I had to lose muscle basically. So you just stay out of the gym, drink a lot of water, and a lot of veg and fish and it helps.’
With the tweak in lifestyle, it still didn’t happen for the ex-Everton forward. He just didn’t hit the heights of the previous season.
Lukaku’s stature seemingly did not fit the style of play that Solskjaer wants. Yet as Ole Gunnar sought to move to a slightly more dynamic and fast forward line, a fit Lukaku could still be counted on to do a good job.
Solskjaer’s new-look side may not be the kind of team Romelu Lukaku thrives in, but he would have offered it something different with his presence upfront.
He could have stayed and be accommodated and it wouldn’t have been an issue. But the young manager’s mind was made up and San Siro is now the new home of Big Rom.
Romelu Lukaku will score goals and do well at Inter Milan. It’s what he knows how to do best. But United have not been smart letting him go. And time will prove that decision wrong.