Inter star, Romelu Lukaku, would put himself ‘in the top five strikers in the world right now’ and explains how various coaches changed his approach to the game.
The Belgium international spoke to reporters in his homeland magazine Sport/Voetbal Magazine about his career path and current success at San Siro.
“When I step on to the pitch, I want to win. That means everything in Italy. There’s an enormous difference compared to the football approach in England, so here I can concentrate on what I am asked to do. In tactical terms, I mustn’t get my positioning or direction wrong. Ever.
“Over the last five months, I would put myself in the list of the top five strikers in the world right now,” said Lukaku. “I don’t want to draw up a list of the others, but I see myself in there.”
The 27-year-old has found the net 15 times in 18 competitive games for Inter this season, along with two assists.
“I liked vertical football, as I am dangerous when I can face the goal. I’m quick and can dribble past my opponent, or move to the left or even the right. That’s where I played in the past, because I was with teams that focused a great deal on the counter-attack.
“However, playing for Belgium forced me to modify my playing style. We rapidly became a side that focuses more on possession and that means there are fewer spaces to run into.
“Roberto Martinez has done everything possible to make me feel more at my ease playing with my back to the goal, both for the national team and previously at Everton. I had a lot to learn at 20, but I soon realised that if I trained hard on that aspect of my game, I could do anything I wanted during a game.
“Jose Mourinho taught me to work better with the collective, both in terms of pressing and my positioning. Just look at what he’s achieving with Harry Kane now at Tottenham.”
Now Lukaku is working with another experienced coach in Antonio Conte, with Lautaro Martinez as his strike partner.
“Before coming here, I did watch a few Inter games and saw Lautaro was quite isolated upfront,” continued Romelu.
“I immediately realised he could make a leap up in quality if we were playing together. Sometimes it’s his day to shine, sometimes it’s mine. If you accept that, everything will be fine.
“I am aware of the responsibility I have to this squad, so I have no right to start waving my arms and getting frustrated. If I do that, it has a negative effect on the team. We need leaders on the field like me, Arturo Vidal, Nicolò Barella or Alexis Sanchez, because only with that attitude can we transform the mentality of the team and overturn a game.”