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5 reasons why Romelu Lukaku was Jose Mourinho's inspired summer buy

Mark Pitman
SENIOR ANALYST
Feature
11.79K   //    14 Sep 2017, 22:37 IST

Manchester United v FC Basel - UEFA Champions League
Romelu Lukaku celebrates the victory over Basel in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday night

There were some pretty significant transfers during the course of the summer, but as the dark nights draw in and the group stages of the UEFA Champions League decide which players actually justify their price tags, Manchester United can sit back with smug satisfaction in the knowledge that they have invested in the perfect package with the signing of Romelu Lukaku.

He may have cost the Old Trafford club the best part of £90 million, but manager Jose Mourinho would have had few concerns about spending his employers' cash on a striker who brings a wealth of experience that defies his years.

Incredibly still only 24, Lukaku has been playing top-flight football across Europe for almost a decade, and with 60 appearances for Belgium across two major finals he is already considered to be something of an international veteran.

But while the potential in Romelu Lukaku has never been in doubt, it is only since making his switch to Manchester United in the summer, that you appreciate how much he has been held back during his time at clubs like West Bromwich Albion and Everton.

Struggling to make an impact as a teenager at Chelsea, Lukaku found regular senior football at the Hawthorns, but made his biggest impact at Goodison Park.

He became the pivotal figure in Everton's attack, and rewarded both Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman with an impressive return of a goal almost every other game.

His progression to a bigger stage was inevitable once he voiced ambitions to play in the UEFA Champions League, and while Chelsea were keen on bringing him back to Stamford Bridge, it was the opportunity to be reunited with Mourinho that proved decisive in the end.

Belgium v Republic of Ireland - Group E: UEFA Euro 2016
Lukaku has already gained a wealth of experience for club and country

His international experiences have not always been positive, and as the talented Belgian team of individuals were humbled by Wales at UEFA EURO 2016, there is no doubt that the young Lukaku has seen a lot in his still developing career.

Now reunited with Roberto Martinez following his appointment as Belgium's National team manager, it is the addition of Thierry Henry to the backroom staff that could prove the most beneficial to Lukaku, and he will find few better specialist teachers to educate him in the art of goalscoring.

Encouraged to join Old Trafford by good friend Paul Pogba, Lukaku eventually made his summer switch in July, and he has hit the ground running.

While he has previously been considered to be a stereotypical target man, either holding the ball up to bring others into play, or using his power and pace in a direct attack on goal, his integration into Mourinho's United team has shown that he had been unfairly pigeonholed all these years.

Here are 5 key elements to explain why he is this summer's best buy.


#5 Experience that defies his age

Standard de Liege vs RSC Anderlecht - Jupiler League
Lukaku made a big impression as a powerful teenager at Anderlecht

The stats don't lie, and for nearly a decade, Romelu Lukaku has been causing problems for top-flight defences, despite only turning 24 earlier in May this year. The story began at Anderlecht back in 2009, and his goal ratio for club and country has been consistently impressive.

With over 250 senior club appearances to complement his 60 international caps, Lukaku has already scored over 100 senior career goals, and his future career figures are already set to be simply frightening.

But Lukaku has also experienced tougher times, and after making a big impression in the Belgian top-flight with Anderlecht, his move to Chelsea brought him back to reality, and it proved to be a frustrating experience.

He came through that period in his career with a maturity to not see a switch to West Bromwich Albion on-loan as a necessarily negative move, and while his career may have appeared to have taken a step backwards at the time, it has been pivotal in catapulting him forward to where he is today.

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Mark Pitman
SENIOR ANALYST
Freelance football reporter, columnist and journalist with extensive experience writing for a wide range of top level digital platforms and printed publications. I have the privilege of interviewing some of the biggest names in the football world. Views are my own.
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