Inter forward Romelu Lukaku says one of the greatest goalscorers the game has ever seen warned him that Serie A was the hardest place to score in the world.
Cristiano Ronaldo had won championships in England and Spain before adding the Scuddeto last year in his first season in Italy. He, like Lukaku, played for Manchester United, and struck a note of caution when talking with the Belgium international before the start of the season.
The former Everton and West Brom striker is off to a good start in Italy, with 10 goals already, but conceded that Ronaldo was right.
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“He told me this is the hardest defensive league in the world,” Lukaku told the New York Times. “He said he’d scored goals everywhere, but this was the toughest place to do it.
“And if Cristiano Ronaldo thinks it’s difficult, then it must be really difficult.
“It is harder than England. The football is more intense there, but here everything is pattern of play.”
Lukaku credits his quick start to life in Italy to hard work off the field, and a facility for languages, with Italian being the seventh the 26-year-old can speak.
He also says that a change of scenery after a toxic end to life in England has helped, saying he struggled with the idea that one difficult year erased almost a decade of success.
He believes he and close friend Paul Pogba were scapegoats for the Red Devils’ difficulties during his time at Old Trafford, despite scoring 42 goals for the club in 96 matches.
“It was always ‘Yes, but..’ right from the start,” he added. “I scored against Real Madrid in the European Super Cup but missed a chance. It was: ‘But he missed that one.’
“I scored against West Ham in my first Premier League game: ‘Yes, but…’ From then on, I started to wonder how it was going to go.
“One year at United erased eight years prior to that. [Pogba and I] were blamed for Manchester United’s fall.”
Inter are off until January 6 as Italy takes a winter break, with the Nerazzurri sitting top ahead of Juventus on goal difference.