Will Romelu Lukaku be a hit at Inter?
Background photo: Dan Heap 77, CC BY 2.0
Serie A clubs have made a serious statement in this summer's transfer window. Juventus emerged the winners a year ago when capturing Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid. This time, it's Internazionale taking the front seat.
Inter are determined to shake things up in the Italian top flight. They completed a major coup by luring Antonio Conte. The former Chelsea manager has since added several top signings as he aims to end Juventus' monopoly, one which was started by himself.
Diego Godin, Stefano Sensi, and Matteo Politano all moved to the Giuseppe Meazza. They are expected to have influential roles for Conte. Another player the Italian's counting on is Romelu Lukaku, who arrived from Manchester United for a club record £74 million three weeks ago.
Following a difficult season at Old Trafford, Lukaku is keen to put naysayers in their place while kick-starting his career. Whether he can remains to be seen. There are several reasons pointing toward him thriving in Italy.
First, Lukaku is at the peak of his powers. He scored 27 competitive goals for United in 2017/2018 before netting four times during Belgium's run to the World Cup semi-final. While the 26-year-old fell a bit below his usual standard last campaign, scoring 15 goals makes sense when considering United's underwhelming performance.
Still, Lukaku has a point to prove at Inter. He's revealed he wants to help the club 'achieve something'. Many have backed him to succeed, including Samuel Eto and Andre Villas-Boas.
With the pressure of Manchester United's demanding fans now consigned to his past, Lukaku's presented with the chance to prosper in a new environment. The ball's in his court.
Adapting to Sere A life shouldn't be a problem for Lukaku. His physique suits the style played there. Pace, power, balance, aerial strength and eye for goal, he has what it takes to terrorize opposing defenses and make Inter one of the division's best attacking teams.
Conte's presence promises to assist Lukaku. The tactician is skilled at getting the best out of his players. For instance, Diego Costa initially thrived under the Italian at Chelsea by using his imposing figure to dismantle opponents.
Lukaku is similar to Costa. Both their style and instinct are comparable. Conte is confident the Belgian will fit his system. He's a long-time admirer of the frontman from days at Chelsea. That's why he went all-out to convince Inter chiefs to pay whatever necessary.
Having handed Lukaku the number nine jersey, it appears Conte has a big plan for him. Early signs show that the trust will be repaid. The striker scored four goals on debut as the Nerazzurri hammered Virtus Bergamo in pre-season, 8-0. He then opened his Serie A account in yesterday's 4-0 victory over Lecce.
Although early doors, it indicates Lukaku's time at Inter will go well. There's one thing he must work on, though, to flourish fully. His reputation for disappearing in big matches is well known. For Conte's side to challenge atop the table, they'll need him to step up when it matters most.