How Good Can Lukaku Get?

Romelu Lukaku was a player with quite a bit of promise in his early years. A product of Chelsea F.Cs expansive youth system, Romelu cut his teeth in the physicality of English football. With a towering 6’3 frame and over 200 pounds of muscle, he dominated back lines throughout his teenage years, and into senior football. After almost a decade in the English top-flight, Lukaku spent time in West Bromwich Albion, Everton, and finally at Manchester United. It wasn’t to be, it seemed. Despite a sound output of 42 goals in almost 100 games, Old Trafford’s fans never seemed to entirely warm to him. His touch, perhaps his main point of contention, riled up fans to no end.

Lukaku was a target man, forced to be a playmaking, hold-up striker. In the end, he was an expensive player that couldn’t fit into United’s plans. Ed Woodward and his team at Manchester sought to quickly shift Lukaku away, and recoup what little cash they could from the deal. After the agonising reality of Alexis Sanchez’s 300k-a-week wages for less than 10 goals in his United career, Lukaku left for Inter Milan as a markedly less costly, but albeit frustrating departure.

Since then, Lukaku has dominated Serie A. With 34 goals in 51 games in his debut season, he was clearly a player who didn’t fear the famously robust Italian defensive playing-style. He combined pace with power that left centre-half veterans chasing shadows and a killer instinct in front of goal that gave Milan the edge they needed. From set-plays, through-balls, or lobbed passes over the top, Lukaku was integral.

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Defensive Doubts

One of Lukaku’s major issues, at least back in his youth, was a perceived lack of defensive efforts. In the words of his manager, Antonio Conte, he was a rough diamond. Speaking to DAZN, Conte explained that he can get stronger with work and that he had the potential to become one of the best strikers in the world.

Conte went on to say that “He is on the right track, as he has everything, the physicality of a centre-forward, but also the pace and power of an American football quarterback.” Sitting deeper, almost a false-nine in the Inter Milan line-up allows Lukaku to share the burden of both attack and defence. The upside is that he can carry a team like Inter – one full of playmaking, dynamic attackers like Erikson and United alumnus Alexis Sanchez as a figurehead. It seems he simply needed to grow up a little on the pitch and share the two sides of the game to move forward.

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Continued Quality

His form hasn’t dipped in the current season. 12 goals in 13 games by December 2020 prove that he’s still not been figured out yet. As an out-and-out poacher, Romelu seems to have massive potential, even as he enjoys his peak at 27 years old. His performances are rubbing off on Milan’s prospects, too. Latest Serie A betting indicates Inter Milan are currently 8/11 to qualify for the final 16 in the Champions League. To reach anything beyond the quarter-finals would be considered a huge crescendo, and the pinnacle of their achievements if they could manage it.

Despite everything, he also managed to become Belgium’s leading scorer surpassing past records set by Bernard Voorhoof and Paul van Himst. He now sits at 57 for his nation. That’s the thing with Lukaku. For all his inconsistency, lack of a soft touch, and decision-making – criticisms that have dogged him most of his career – it seems that wherever he goes he manages to find the back of the net. He’s not someone who relies on having a team being built around him, nor does he need special treatment.

Ironically, he’s the exact sort of player United are now crying out for.

Can Inter Milan Win The Seria A Title This Year?

With the Seria A being wide open this year due to Juventus not looking like the side that has won nine consecutives in the past nine seasons. Because of this, it has blown the league right open with multiple teams now looking as if they can go on to win the title. Due to this, Inter Milan have now become the front runner when it comes to winning the league this year; is this the year that they get back to greatness?

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Inter are currently favourites for the title priced at 9/4 for the league and are currently sat in 2nd position in the league behind bitter rival’s AC Milan. Inter will know that they are the more experienced side though with star quality littered all over their field. However, for us, the deciding factor when it comes to why we think this might be the year for Inter is that they have Antonio Conte as their manager, and he is a born winner. He has won trophies everywhere he has managed including winning the Premier League in his first season at Chelsea in which is probably the hardest league in the world.

Furthermore, to this, they have one of the best strike partnerships in the whole of Europe currently with Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez who seem to work fluidly together and really complement each other’s qualities. This partnership is the definition of Little and Large with Lukaku being that big target man with strength and hold up play but also the ability to score from wherever with 12 goals in 11 games this season. Martinez is the small, pacey and direct striker that puts fear into opposition with his insane dribbling skills and has added 6 goals in 11 appearances this year. If these two keep scoring, they’ll be on their way to the league title.

And finally, Conte is known for his defensive set up and one that he uses his man-management skills to ensure that the system that he desires is implemented in his defenders. Typically, he likes a strong defensive pack at the back and with the experience of Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar, this seems to be working like clockwork at the moment.

 

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Inter Milan players set to star at the next World Cup

2022 will see the FIFA World Cup held in an Arab state for the first time as Qatar plays host. 32 nations will participate and compete for the right to be called the best in the world, with France heading into the tournament as the previous winners. And as has been the case for practically every instalment of the competition since its inception in 1930, we can expect to see a host of Inter players grace international football’s biggest stage.

There have been some concerns that the country may not be ready to host matches, with England reportedly ready to step in as a back-up host, but those fears have not resurfaced recently. In this article, we will examine some of the players established at the senior level and the youngsters coming through who we can expect to see play for their country in 2022’s showpiece in the middle east.

Italian internationals

Excluding the players presently out on loan, the Inter Milan squad includes nine players eligible to play for Italy. Of that nine, Roberto Gagliardini, Stefano Sensi, Andrea Ranocchia, Nicolo Barella, Danilo D’Ambrosio, and Antonio Candreva have caps at senior level for the Azzurri.

Sebastiano Esposito and Lorenzo Pirola have both played at multiple youth levels but are yet to earn senior call-ups. Exciting young striker Esposito will be 20 by the time the World Cup in Qatar arrives, while defender Lorenzo Pirola could also be knocking on the door for selection after recently earning his first under-19s cap.

At the other end of the spectrum, 33-year-old Candreva could find himself forced out of the reckoning, while fellow veteran Ranocchia chose to retire from international duty in 2016. Meanwhile, 31-year-old D’Ambrosio had to wait until 2017 to earn his first senior call up and will likely still be keen to feature on the biggest stage.

Overseas stars

Of course, the Inter Milan squad features a diverse group of international stars, with hot talents from Europe, Africa, and South America. Perhaps the most experienced outfield player is Englishman Ashley Young, who, at 35, has made 39 appearances for his country since debuting a full 13 years ago.

Goalkeeper Samir Handanovic has made close to 300 appearances for Inter and he has also given great service to Slovenia, but he retired from international football in 2015 after making 81 appearances for his country.

Further afield, new permanent arrival Alexis Sanchez is a legend in his native Chile, making more than 130 appearances for the South American nation since 2006 and showing no signs of slowing down. The 2022 World Cup could be the perfect way for him to bow out should his country qualify.

Another forward, Romelu Lukaku, has played a key role in Belgium’s emergence as a force in world football since 2010. The Red Devils are priced at 13.00 to win the World Cup in international football betting markets – more highly fancied than Italy. However, Lukaku has previously told media that he may consider retiring from international football at a relatively young age.

Elsewhere, Ghanaian Kwadwo Asamoah, Uruguayan duo Diego Godin, and Matias Vecino will be eager to make their mark, while Dutch defender Stefan de Vrij has played a major part in the Netherlands’ re-emergence as a footballing force during the last five years.

It’s clear that everywhere you look in the Inter squad, and across the majority of Europe’s elite clubs, there is impressive international talent. And although Inter fans likely have their own nation to support, we’ll definitely be rooting for our boys when they turn out for their respective countries in two years’ time.

Inter angling for star in the making Tonali

Separating hype from true potential is not a new phenomenon to the football fan. In the early years of a career, some players hit the ground the running and sustain that performance for decades. Others shine brightly and fade a few years later. Some might never realise their potential at all. For Inter Milan, the 20/21 season beckons ever closer and, as they set their sights on one of those mercurial talents, they will face off with some of their biggest rivals to win his signature, in a deal that could easily cost north of 50 million euros – and he’s only 19 years old.

We’re talking, of course, about Sandro Tonali – the player penned to be the next Pirlo – while barely out of his teenage years.

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The heir to the throne?

Tonali has only been playing in the Italian top flight for a single season – helping Brescia claim victory in the Serie B back in 2018. At 5″11, with a slight build and long, wavy hair, he plays the role of the regista – a deep-lying holding midfielder with strengths in passing and vision – the same as Pirlo, who also started his career at Brescia. With one goal and five assists in 23 games, his value comes largely from the way he can dictate a game’s flow and rhythm, building up attacks from the halfway line.

Much like the legendary Andrea Pirlo, his value lies in the things basic statistics often cannot measure. He provides a strategic intelligence and maturity on the field, citing Gerrard and Modric as some of his own personal, greatest influences.

For Inter Milan, his signing could mean building an attack around him, while he can bring the best out of their considerable talent upfront on Politano, Martinez, and Lukaku. Tonali could rewrite the Nerazzurri and enhance their prospects, particularly within the football betting markets; where praise for both Erikson and Lukaku are tempered by the perception that they are not realising their full potential with Inter. Understandably, Tonali could be the key to the Milan midfield.

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Competition from all sides

Inter Milan’s proposal has been described as a ‘Barella-style’ deal – essentially, a loan with an obligation to buy, along with assorted bonuses linked to metrics like goals and appearances, potentially driving the reported €50 million Brescia are seeking for their young starlet.

According to recent reporting, Inter will be competing with the likes of Juventus, however, they are buoyed up by alleged ‘strong approval’ from Tonali himself. Brescia’s president Massimo Cellino implied that the choice would be up to Tonali in the case that offers were relatively similar in value.

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A long way to go

The likelihood of this transfer saga being over quickly is slim. From a Brescia perspective, driving up the price tag is a priority, however, the wellbeing of Tonali – who many might forget is still very young – and making sure he makes a move which benefits his career should come into the equation.

After all, Italy’s national squad is wanting for a new generation of stars to lift their team out of recent under-performing. With Donnarumma looking to take over from Buffon, Gaetano, Esposito, and Colley among many young Italians maturing into world-class players – Tonali could be the missing puzzle piece to more than just Inter Milan’s domestic ambitions.