There are not many players in the world who can make defenders shake in their boots, leave goalkeepers rooted to the spot at a moment’s notice while turning a game on its head. But Romelu Lukaku can do just that.
In one of the summer’s biggest splashes, Manchester United brought in the 24-year-old Belgian international for a whopping $97 million to strengthen an already potent attack at Old Trafford.
Bagging an impressive 25 goals for Everton a year ago, Lukaku already has invaluable experience and is widely considered one of the world’s top strikers after his impressive campaign. His 25-goal tally in 2016/17 was second only behind BPL Golden Boot winner and Tottenham striker Harry Kane’s 29 goals.
Born in Antwerp, Belgium, Lukaku began his professional career in 2009 with Belgian club R.S.C. Anderlecht after climbing the youth ranks at the club. In his time with Anderlecht, Lukaku appeared on 73 occasions netting 33 goals before then Chelsea head coach Jose Mourinho came courting.
Having a keen eye for young talent Mourinho swooped in for the young striker and brought him to the London club but Lukaku’s career hit a snag at Chelsea leading to two short loan stints at both West Bromwich Albion and Everton. During those loan stints Lukaku hit for 32 combined goals (17 West Brom – 15 Everton) in 66 appearances (35 West Brom – 31 Everton).
After his successful loan stint at the Toffees, Everton put pen to paper for a permanent deal for the striker in 2014, signing him to a five-year deal for a club record $36 million. Lukaku’s career escalated quickly as he settled in at Goodison Park.
During the 2014/15 season Everton found themselves in Europa League after qualifying a season before while conveniently housing the competition’s joint highest scorer, Romelu Lukaku. Lukaku scored his first hat-trick for the club in February 2015 during a Europa League win, scoring with his head, right and left feet for a ‘true striker’s’ hat-trick in-route to an eight-goal competition.
The following season brought more of the same success for the youngster, as he scored 18 league goals in 37 appearances for the Toffees before his 25-goal year in 2016/17.
As an international player, fans in the United States may remember Lukaku for his role for Belgium against the U.S. in the 2014 World Cup as he scored what was to be the winning goal to push the Belgians through to the quarterfinals. With Belgium, Lukaku has appeared 57 times while scoring 20 goals in his nearly seven-year international career.
Reunited with his former boss at Chelsea in Jose Mourinho, Lukaku aims to produce goals for Manchester United at a rapid pace to propel United back to English and European prominence. In a recent interview for ESPNFC, teammate and fellow striker Jesse Lingard stated that in Lukaku’s short time as a United player he has shown that "he's a very strong lad, very physical presence, and he's going to cause defenders problems this season. We've seen it in training, we've already witnessed what he can do in training and if he can bring that it will be huge."
Lukaku made his Manchester United debut in a 5-2 trouncing of the Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday when he came on at halftime to play the second half of the match. Although Lukaku didn’t score, he looked threatening in the attacking third, putting defenders on their heels while putting his teammates in scoring positions. Romelu Lukaku and the Red Devils will travel to Sandy to take on Real Salt Lake on July 17 at Rio Tinto Stadium.