Inter forward Romelu Lukaku is setting records left, right and centre as his sparkling form continues to thrust the Nerazzurri on their quest to win the Serie A title.
Lukaku signed for Inter for €80 million in in August in a deal which was ridiculed by many but lauded by so few, with people questioning the forward’s quality.
‘If Lukaku wants to go to Italy, I’ll drive him there myself’ was the tweet of one such Manchester United fan on Twitter amidst rumours of his move.
Such comments were not few and far between as many began to question his desire and ability. Things just weren’t going for Lukaku. He looked sluggish at times and his first touch left much to be desired.
Fast forward five months and the Belgian is already showing signs of his pre-Old Trafford days as he sets Serie A alight, and let’s face it, he’s a guy who possesses all the attributes of a truly class forward. He’s big, strong, quick and is showing that he’s got skills capable of leaving defenders in the dust.
For the first time in the history of Serie A, two teams – Inter and Juventus – have accumulated 45 points in the opening 18 fixtures, and that’s largely down to the fact that Inter now have their own talisman to rival Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus.
On a night that saw Inter brush aside Napoli 3-1 in the Stadio San Poalo and coach Antonio Conte pick up a landmark 100th Serie A victory, the Nerazzurri No.9 set a few milestones of his own.
With 14 goals, he surpassed Christian Vieri as the Inter player to have scored the most Serie A goals after 18 games, which is impressive when you consider that he only picked up 28 Premier League goals in total during his two full seasons at United. It looks as though, barring any injuries, he’s well on course to hit the 20-goal mark, at the very least.
He also broke another record, netting 10 goals in nine consecutive Serie A away games, thanks to his brace in Naples and has become only the sixth Inter player to score two consecutive Serie A doubles. The other five just happen to be Mauro Icardi, Alvaro Recoba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Samuel Eto’o and the aforementioned Vieri.
For the first time since 2007/08 Inter have two players with at least nine goals from the opening 18 Serie A games. Julio Cruz and Ibrahimovic did it that time around, but now it’s over to Lukaku and his partner in crime, Lautaro Martinez.
The Argentinian forms the second half of what is fast becoming one of the best pairings in Europe, and with 16 goals between them, the Lukaku-Lautaro pairing has the most league away goals in Europe’s top 5 leagues, thus far.
Conte has taken the shackles off and it was evident to see in their latest outing as they beat Napoli away in Serie A for the first time since 1997, thanks to goals from the prolific duo.
They didn’t have most of the possession – just 43.4 percent – and nor did they manage the most shots on goal, 10 compared to Napoli’s 17, but when they sprung on the counter-attack they looked threatening every time. Alex Meret had to be at his best on several occasions to deny the front-two even more goals.
Is Lukaku back to his best? Is he on course to be Capoconnoniere? Has he proved people wrong? Would the fans who mocked him offer to drive to Italy again to pick him up and take him back? It’s more than probable that the answer to all these questions is a positive one for the big Belgian, but only time will tell.
One thing is for certain at the moment, and it’s that this Inter side is in with a real chance of winning their first Scudetto in a decade, and to do that they’ll need more of the same from Lukaku.