Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Lukaku credits Mourinho with making him a team player: ´Look what he is doing with Kane´

SoccerNews in Serie A 29 Dec 2020

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Inter striker Romelu Lukaku has credited Jose Mourinho with turning him into more of a team player and sees similarities with Harry Kane’s development at Tottenham.

Lukaku has been in fine form since joining Inter from Manchester United in August 2019, scoring 34 goals in 49 Serie A appearances.

That is a tally bettered only by Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo (43 goals in 43 games) and Lazio star Ciro Immobile (45 in 49) over the same period.

The 27-year-old’s return of one Serie A goal every 116 minutes for Inter compares favourably to his one goal every 179 minutes for United across two Premier League seasons (28 goals in 66 matches).

But Lukaku is grateful to have worked under Mourinho at Old Trafford, with the Portuguese now getting the best out of Spurs talisman Kane, who has nine goals and 10 assists in 15 league games this term.

“Mourinho taught me to work better with the collective, both in terms of pressing and to position me better on the field,” he told Sport/Voetbalmagazine. 

“Just look at what he’s doing with Harry Kane now.”

Lukaku was not in the final running for The Best FIFA Men’s Player award this year, which was won by Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.

But with 15 goals in 18 appearances in all competitions for Inter this campaign, the Belgium international feels he is certainly among the top five best strikers in the world.

“Now? In the past five months, yes,” he said. “I don’t want to rank that from one to five, but I’m a part of it right now.”

Lukaku is now playing under Antonio Conte and is often partnered with Lautaro Martinez in attack for an Inter side one point off top spot in Serie A.

Inter scored 108 goals in all competitions in 2020 – their joint-most in a single calendar year since 1929-30 – while their 34 goals in 14 Serie A games this season are their most at this stage of a campaign since netting the same number in 1960-61.

Lukaku and Martinez have combined for 17 of those league goals in 2020-21, and the former United man was always confident he could strike up a strong partnership with the Argentina international.

“Before I arrived here, I watched some Inter matches and sometimes saw Lautaro only in the front,” he said. 

“I immediately felt it could click if they put us in the rush together. Sometimes it’s his day, other times it’s mine. If you accept that, everything will be fine.”

Lukaku added: “I used to find myself most dangerous when I was facing the target. I am fast, can eliminate my direct opponent with a dribble, or swerve to the left but also to the right. 

“That was my game in the past, also because I was often in teams that bet on the counter-attack. But the national team has obliged me to adjust my playing style.

“With Belgium, we quickly became the team with the most ball possession that got the least space. Roberto Martinez did everything he could to make me feel more comfortable with my back to goal, both with the national team and Everton back then. 

“At the age of 20, I still had a lot to learn, but I soon realised that if I would train on that aspect, I could do what I wanted in a match.”

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