Romelu Lukaku is “not one-dimensional”, insists Dimitar Berbatov, with the Manchester United forward proving he can operate wide and down the middle with “Xavi or Iniesta” versatility.
The Belgium international has forged his reputation as an archetypal No. 9, with his physicality and finishing ability making him the perfect leading man.
He has, however, seen Marcus Rashford switched into a central striking role since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge at United, with the 25-year-old being forced to tweak his game as a result.
He has been used in a partnership at times, but has also been nudged out to the flanks to fill an attacking support role.
Lukaku was back in his favoured post against Crystal Palace on Wednesday with Rashford sidelined, and bagged himself a brace, but also showed in a goalless draw with Liverpool how useful he can be when moved out of the centre.
Former United striker Berbatov has been impressed by what he has seen from a man who has had to force his way back into contention, telling Betfair: “I like Romelu Lukaku and he's earned a place in the first XI.
“He's worked hard to be in the first team, you could see it in his game at Selhurst Park. The two goals he scored, the runs he made, the passion in his performance all showed to me that he had a place in the team.
“I would like to see him start against Southampton because he has earned it.
“And don't make the mistake of thinking he has to play central. In modern football many teams play with three up front and that trio can switch positions and confuse the opposition.
“Lukaku is capable of using the space really well when he drifts left or right and has made a few assists from those positions.
“The ball Lukaku played for [Jesse] Lingard against Liverpool, there aren't many players who can make that pass. It was like watching Xavi or Iniesta!
“Lukaku is not one-dimensional like some people assume.”
A double in a 3-1 victory over Palace in his most recent outing has taken Lukaku onto 11 goals for the season, with double figures having now been reached in the Premier League across seven successive campaigns.