'I'm one of the top five strikers in the world' - Lukaku credits Mourinho & Martinez for development

Romelu Lukaku Inter 2020-21
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The Belgium striker says he always expected to become his country's top scorer, a feat he achieved in 2017

Romelu Lukaku says he is one of the best five strikers in the world.

The Belgium international has gone from strength to strength since leaving Manchester United for Inter, scoring 35 goals in 2020 and spearheading his side’s Serie A title challenge this season.

Agent Federico Pastorello recently said Lukaku had become the best forward in the world, while former Inter forward Christian Vieri said not even Robert Lewandowski would score so many goals in Antonio Conte’s side.

Lukaku has scored 11 goals in 13 Serie A appearances so far this season, including six in his last seven.

Asked by Sport/Voetbalmagazine if he thought he was worthy of a top-five tag, Lukaku had no time for false modesty.

“Now? In the past five months, yes,” he said. “I don’t want to rank that group from one to five, but I’m part of it right now.”

Despite taking his game to new heights at San Siro under Conte, Lukaku was keen to give credit to Jose Mourinho and Roberto Martinez for their roles in his development.

“Mourinho taught me to work better with the team, both in terms of pressing and to position me better on the field. Just look at what he's doing with Harry Kane now.

“I used to love vertical football. I found myself to be most dangerous when I was facing the goal. I am fast, I can eliminate my direct opponent with a dribble, or swerve to the left or the right. That was my game in the past, also because I was often in teams that played on the counter. But the national team has obliged me to adjust my playing style.

“With Belgium, we quickly became a team that had the most possession and got the least space [to play in]. Roberto Martinez did everything he could to make me feel more comfortable with my back to goal, both with the national team and back at Everton.

“At the age of 20, I still had a lot to learn. But I soon realised that if I could train that aspect of my play, I could do what I wanted in a match.”

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With 57 goals in 89 games, Lukaku is Belgium’s all-time top scorer, 25 clear of his nearest challenger in Eden Hazard. Having made his debut a decade ago, he says the title of top scorer was one he always expected to win.

“My advantage is that I became a professional at a young age,” Lukaku noted.

“Despite my difficult first years with the national team, I was 100 per cent sure that I would one day become the top scorer of all time, not least because I have been surrounded by top players for years. If you have been on the field for so long, it makes sense that you will break a few records.”

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