Luke Shaw has been Manchester United’s player of the season, according to Romelu Lukaku.
The left-back set up Lukaku for the first goal in Wednesday’s 3-1 Premier League win at Crystal Palace with a driving run from deep, as United secured a club-record eighth away win in a row in all competitions.
It was the highlight of another impressive performance from Shaw, who has been consistently good under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after some issues under former manager Jose Mourinho.
And Lukaku admits he expected the 23-year-old to enjoy something of a breakthrough season in 2018-19, having overcome some persistent injury problems.
“He’s our player of the season,” Lukaku said, as quoted by The Mirror. “From the start of the season until now, he’s been the most consistent.
“It’s due to his preparation. We were in touch the whole summer when I was in Russia [for the World Cup]. We have mutual friends. I used to get videos of him working out and stuff, and I knew this year would be his year.
“That’s what I told him at the end of last season, that he has the potential to be the England left-back for many, many years, and for Manchester United the same. It’s about being that guy.”
— Luke Shaw (@LukeShaw23) December 28, 2018
Shaw was criticised in public on more than one occasion by Mourinho, although he appeared to have won back the trust of the Portuguese during the final few months of his time in charge.
“The previous criticism didn’t hurt him,” Lukaku said. “People who don’t know Luke don’t know he’s mentally really tough. It’s a side that not a lot of people talk about, but it has to be known that mentally he’s a really strong guy.”
Lukaku scored twice in the win over Palace, before Ashley Young made the victory safe after Joel Ward had pulled a goal back.
The Belgium international admits it was a relief to get on the scoresheet for the first time since the 2-0 FA Cup win over Reading on January 5.
“I just wanted to score, so I did what I had to do, but I was involved in the build-up in the other goal and created a couple of chances against Liverpool, so I knew it was coming,” he said.
Lukaku also praised Solskjaer’s impact as he looks to learn from United’s treble-winning former forward.
“He’s really open, really honest in his communication, and keeps me hungry, so whenever I get a chance to play, I just want what’s best for the team,” he said. “It’s really helpful he’s a former striker. If you look at my career, I’ve always had good strikers helping me.”
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