No United fan needs to be told just how good Lukaku has been to start the season. Though he’s shouldered a considerable amount of responsibility in his time as Everton’s lead man, it is remarkable how confident and composed he has looked from the moment he pulled on his first Manchester United shirt considering the amount of pressure and criticism he faced throughout the summer.
The £75m price tag for Lukaku was only the beginning of the skepticism from critics, but where is this uncertainty coming from?
At Everton, Lukaku was a consistent goalscorer despite inconsistent team form and a change in management. He is one of four players to score 80 Premier League goals before the age of 24, and has more club goals than Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Zlatan Ibrahimović did at his age. Had United signed him earlier he may have been well on his way to surpassing Rooney’s Manchester United all-time goalscoring record by now.
Lukaku was continually compared to Álvaro Morata throughout the transfer window, another striker believed to be sought after by both United and Chelsea. The debate over the players was often redundant, with Lukaku being praised for his physical abilities and criticized for his technical abilities. His first touch, his ability to hold the ball up, and his offensive tactical awareness were all seen as weaknesses, but given his performance so far it seems those criticisms were wrong.
Morata, seen by many as the smarter and more useful player of the two, has had a decent start to the season, but has looked frustrated at times, and this weekend against Arsenal was unable to make a difference. Chelsea boasted a side of numerous creative offensive weapons, but rarely seemed to threaten the Arsenal defense, which has been under fire for years now.
Lukaku on the other hand again showed his ability to create opportunities for himself and others. He assisted Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a changeup of the normal order of things, and then scored one himself a few minutes later after following in on his missed free kick opportunity.
Obviously it’s a bit early to properly evaluate each of the players’ respective moves, but perhaps It is not too early to say that Lukaku was unfairly criticized when compared to Morata when one considers Lukaku’s achievements prior to his move to Old Trafford and his level of play since the move.
When Lukaku’s creativity is lacking his poaching ability can still make a difference. His timing and vision in the final third is nearly impeccable. And with Manchester City winning games 5-0 and 6-0 United will need a consistent player like Lukaku if they want to bring the Premier League title back to Old Trafford.