Antonio Conte and Romelu Lukaku continued their bright start to their Inter careers after the 2-0 win in the derby victory over city rivals AC Milan. Under the Italian born’s guidance, a couple of Inter players look to be in good “form” and one can only question how long the Nerazzurri can keep this up as the question of their credentials as candidates to win the Serie A are looking somewhat answered already. From Stefano Sensei to Nicola Barella to Diego Godin, a few of the Inter players have been delivering the goods so far. But one player who has largely caught the eye is in-form forward Romelu Lukaku.
The 26-year-old Belgian striker scored in his first-ever Milanese derby and bagged his third goal in four league games for the Nerazzurri. His performances so far have justified coach Antonio Conte’s continued interest and why he was keen on getting the former Manchester United forward over the summer.
While in the latter stages of his United career, Lukaku saw himself fall down the pecking order and was demoted to a substitute role despite being the club’s top scorer at the point. All of those now look blown with the wind as the Belgian is looking a refreshed man under Conte and I did say in one of my previous articles that if anyone could win the capocannoniere award ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lukaku is the top man for the job.
The striker’s comments in the aftermath of the derby victory over AC Milan only went further to show how much his bromance with Conte has played a big influence in his newfound form – and suggests that United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer failed to motivate him in his time at Old Trafford.
“The hug with Antonio Conte? My relationship with him is very strong, he’s a coach who helps me a lot. At 26 I want a coach who gives me motivation, I’m happy to be here with him, in this team.” Lukau told DAZN media outlet as quoted via Metro.
“I’m very happy, this match was very important; on Wednesday there will be another difficult match against Lazio, but now I’m happy for these three points. Today went well, but about the Scudetto, now is not time to discuss it”.
As Lukaku mentioned, it might not be time to discuss the title but it’s worth noting that as a result of his goals, Inter are now top of the table with a perfect record after four wins in four games, sitting at twelve points. The only side to do so in the Serie A so far.
Just how much of an upgrade from last season has Lukaku been under Conte’s tutelage?
Stats show Lukaku has greatly improved under Conte
Lukaku’s move to Inter came from the back of a disappointing campaign at United under Solskjaer (by the striker’s standards). His tally of last season saw him amass 12 goals in 32 league appearances with a grand total of 2130 minutes (via Whoscored). The fact that his 2018/19 season rating of 6.84 as per the same source was the Belgian’s lowest since 2015 only goes further to substantiate the point. Despite having no assist to show for, the 26-year-old’s tally of 12 goals in 2130 minutes put him at an average of a goal every 177.5 minutes. Not so bad. Right?
Well under Conte so far, the Belgian has already bagged in three goals in four appearances with a total of 335 minutes. His current numbers mean Lukaku has averaged a goal every 111.6 minutes and at this rate he would be with at least 20 goals after 32 appearances. That’s eight better than his tally from last season with a few games to spare as well.
Even better is the fact that he’s not just scoring alone but creating chances for his teammates. While he doesn’t have an assist yet under Conte, his performances have shown it’s only a matter of time before he gets one.
Romelu Lukaku created more chances (4) vs. Lecce than any other player Inter Milan during his debut for the club.
And he got himself on the scoresheet. 😏 pic.twitter.com/GAljTHsZZK
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 26, 2019
Hence it’s no surprise Lukaku has managed 1.8 key passes per game under Conte, which is more than double his 0.7 key passes per game during his last season at Manchester United.
As per Whoscored, Lukaku’s team play has also been more effective under Conte as the 26-year-old now averages 21.8 average passes per 90 minutes with an accuracy of 67.8%. This is improvement considering in the same vain last season, the Belgian could only manage 16.7 average passes per 90 minutes with a lesser accuracy of 66.3%.
It doesn’t end on the attacking front and spreads to his defensive responsibilities as well. Lukaku has shown more willingness to win the ball and now makes 1 successful tackle per game compared to his 0.3 tackles per game from last season. (via Whoscored).
It’s good to see a player with lots of respect and admiration for his manager and vice versa. The fact that Conte believes Lukaku can do even better can only make the Inter fans drool for games to come.
“He is 26 years old and arrived here thanks to his potential,” Conte said of Lukaku (via Goal), who reportedly clashed with Brozovic in the dressing room on the night of the Slavia match.
“If we work with him properly, he can become extremely important. He can give even more and I told him that too.”
If both player and coach continue to bring out the best in each other, we could see a prime Lukaku with more efficient numbers and even better it could be the driving force of an Inter side well equipped of snatching the Scudetto from the seven-year dominance Juventus have had since 2012.
And with United struggling for goals and results this season, their fans could be forgiven for wondering whether Solskjaer could have done more to “motivate” the front man.