Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku has hit back at criticism from his time at Manchester United and has admitted that he feels more appreciated in Italy.
Lukaku, 27, joined United from Everton in 2017 for a fee said to worth £76.23mm, as per Transfermarkt, and it was the summer in which Zlatan Ibrahimovic had suffered his knee injury, so then manager Jose Mourinho reached out and signed the striker he previously managed as a youngster at Chelsea.
The Belgian striker spent two years at Old Trafford scoring 55 goals in 96 games across all competitions, however, he wasn’t what Solskjaer wanted up front and that became very clear after the Norwegian took over from Mourinho. That said, Lukaku was underperforming and as that continued he had to be shown the door.
Of course, then came criticism of Lukaku and a lot of it was justified. Some argued that he was ‘slow’, ‘lazy’ and had a first touch like a pinball machine.
The striker has spoken out and fired back at his critics.
“A year ago, when I was in England, I was ‘lazy, I didn’t run, I didn’t do this and that’. Here, they call me the hardest worker in the room,” Lukaku told The Times (£). “If you look at me playing here and there, I mean, there are improvements, yeah, but the [same] Rom is still here.
“Stuff happens in football but it’s something you need to explain to the next generation of kids, that you need to have full control over your destiny. Make sure when you go somewhere that every piece of the puzzle has to be right. Know what I mean? At the time, we saw the outcome, we saw how I did. And if you look at me now you see a different outcome, you see the full person, you see the full potential. You see what I could have been doing in England.”
Things weren’t right as soon as he signed for United, adding: “From the first friendly game when I played against LA Galaxy, from that first game it was always ‘Yes, but…’,” he says. “Everybody in the club was so nice, from Ed Woodward to the owners, to Matthew Judge [transfer negotiator], to Jose Mourinho, to Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] and his staff, to everybody in the canteen. They were so nice. But the stuff around it was just too much of a negative spiral for me.
“They will call me slow and I’m like, ‘Slow? Me, slow? I cannot keep up with the fast pace game of Man U? There were too many little things where I thought this is not right. If you call me slow I would not score a goal like I scored the second against Shakhtar Donetsk in the [Europa League] semi-final.
“If I was slow I would not have got the penalty like I did against Seville in the final. That’s two years after. Are you going to say me at 27 is faster than I was at 25? That’s what I’m trying to say. It’s just little things. I was like, you know what? Eff this. I’m out.”
The fact of the matter is Lukaku had slowed down at United and it looked like he gained too much weight a year into his spell at the United.
Moreover, the Premier League is a lot faster than Serie A. Lukaku doesn’t put that into the equation when explaining how he had a bit extra in the tank towards the end of last season — playing in the latter stages of the Europa League.
I’m glad to hear he’s happy in Italy, but it definitely appears as though the UK press hit a nerve…