An unusual comparison…
Over the course of his career, Romelu Lukaku is usually compared to powerful strikers in the Premier League. Normally Didier Drogba, for their similarities in build, finishing ability and intelligent around the box. And their race, obviously. But there is much more to Lukaku’s game than brute strength.
He is more of a poacher than the target man people make him out to be, and his link-up play often goes very underrated despite the jokes about his first touch.
During Manchester United’s clash with Liverpool last weekend, when players dropped like flies and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had to make all three substitutions before half-time, Lukaku did something that went largely overlooked.
After receiving the ball just outside the box, instead of opting for a hopeful shot, Lukaku had the vision to spot Jesse Lingard’s run and the ability to execute a beautifully weighted into his path.
As Lingard tried to round Alisson, the Liverpool goalkeeper picked up the ball, but the pass was worthy of its plaudits nonetheless.
This has prompted comparisons to some of the best midfielders to ever play the game, as former United striker Dimitar Berbatov likened Lukaku to Barcelona stars Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.
“I like Romelu Lukaku and he’s earned a place in the first XI. He’s worked hard to be in the first-team, you could see it in his game at Selhurst Park,” Berbatoc told Betfair, speaking about United’s win against Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.
“The two goals he scored, the runs he made, the passion in his performance all showed to me that he had a place in the team. I would like to see him start against Southampton because he has earned it,” he added.
“And don’t make the mistake of thinking he has to play central. In modern football many teams play with three upfront and that trio can switch positions and confuse the opposition.
“Lukaku is capable of using the space really well when he drifts left or right and has made a few assists from those positions.
“The ball Lukaku played for Lingard against Liverpool, there aren’t many players who can make that pass. It was like watching Xavi or Iniesta! Lukaku is not one-dimensional like some people assume.”
It’s an unusual comparison, but it’s about time Lukaku got credit for being more than just a battering ram.