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Manchester United fans had a sigh of relief when their £75million signing Romelu Lukaku had a stupendous inception of the new campaign with goals in almost every outing and replaced the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic successfully. The ex-Everton forward played a pivotal role in guiding the Red Devils to contest for the Premier League title against high-flying city rivals Manchester City and also helped them to constitute an impressive Champions League run so far this season.
However, the Belgian’s recent goal drought has led to an annoyance among the supporters as he has only netted once in past 11 outings across all competitions and despite a few assists, Lukaku has failed to step up in big encounters, on most occasions. Although the star-studded Manchester United have a plethora of options up front, especially Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford who have performed sensationally in the attacking third, Lukaku’s lack of involvement and movement inside the box are alarming indications for the rest of the campaign.
United’s midfield has been instrumental with the presence of Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata, whereas the recent resurgence of Ashley Young has relieved Jose Mourinho since he has shifted the Englishman to a left wingback role. The Portuguese tactician, however, is still backing his first-choice attacker and his latest quotes might sound bizarre, where he defended the big Belgian.
“He needs a big contract with boots. At this moment he doesn’t have a contract with any brand. That is why he is playing with the black boots. He needs a brand to give him the right boots and to pay the right money, so he goes back to goals.”
Mourinho is still backing Lukaku despite him wasting easiest of opportunities but the scenario might alter soon with Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s return to full fitness. The retired Swedish professional was introduced from the bench in United’s recent outings, as he has recovered from his long-term injury concern, well ahead of schedule.
He is 36, but still looks sharper than Lukaku and has made himself an instant hit at Old Trafford after completing a Bosman transfer last summer. He guided them to clinch the League Cup title and netted 28 goals in 46 appearances altogether before the injury brought an abrupt end to his majestic maiden Premier League campaign.
Lukaku has found the back of the net 8 times in the league and has bagged 12 goals in 21 outings across all competitions. The numbers are not at all underwhelming and the Belgian might end his first season at Manchester with more goals than Zlatan did last season. But in terms of impact and influence, the latter attained a greater impression at the Theatre of Dreams. It is to be seen whether Mourinho keeps his patience in Lukaku or brings back Ibrahimovic to his starting lineup ahead of major encounters against in-form Arsenal and league leaders Manchester City.