Former Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick has hailed the development of Romelu Lukaku, who signed for Chelsea from Inter Milan over the summer.
Lukaku was an established, prolific Premier League striker prior to his move to Manchester United. On paper, it looked as though the Red Devils had found themselves their centre-forward for a decade when they struck a deal with Everton for his transfer.
However, the Belgian departed Old Trafford with a record of 28 goals in 66 Premier League appearances. It’s not disastrous, but his sluggish and lacklustre work ethic, paired with his loose first-touch, frustrated portions of the fanbase.
A move to Inter Milan materialised and an opportunity for Lukaku to revive his career presented itself. It’s one that he grabbed with both hands, developing into one of the best strikers on the planet under Antonio Conte before sealing a move back to Chelsea for what Sky Sports reported to be a £97.5m fee.
After four goals in four Chelsea appearances, Lukaku looks set for greatness at Stamford Bridge. Former Man United midfielder Luke Chadwick doesn’t believe that’d ever have been the case at Old Trafford, with Lukaku feeling unloved.
“I don’t think he [Lukaku] ever felt loved at United,” Chadwick said, during an exclusive interview with CaughtOffside. “I think when he feels loved and feels like a massive part of the team, that’s when he’s at his very best.”
“He went to Inter Milan, it’s a difficult culture in Italy in terms of the training programme and he looks in such better shape now since he’s gone back to Chelsea.”
“I think he always had the potential to be one of the very best in the world, but he believes he’s up there now, because of what he’s done in Italy.”
“It’s similar to Cristiano [Ronaldo] in a way, gone back to a club that he knows really well, probably doesn’t need that settling in period, feels at home straight away.”
“I think if he was treated well at United and had the team built around him, he could have been that world, world-class striker there. I just don’t think he ever felt loved by the managers.”
“I don’t think the team was ever built around his strengths, as it was almost immediately at Inter Milan and obviously he had a brilliant time there, earned the move to Chelsea and I think he’ll be a brilliant signing.”
It is often the case in football, where fans mistake a player being a bad fit for a club as the player simply not being good enough. Lukaku is the prime example, mediocre at Man United and undeniably world-class at Inter Milan and, though it’s very early days, Chelsea.
Lukaku is not the only Man United player to have struggled amidst all the post-Fergie negativity and questionable managerial appointments. His shortfalls while playing for the Red Devils are ancient history and they should no longer be considered an accurate representation of Lukaku as a footballer.