Antonio Conte has picked out the striker currently tearing up the European scene who most reminds him of Romelu Lukaku.
Conte managed the Belgian striker during his Scudetto-winning season at Inter, having brought him over from Manchester United for £74m in 2019. Together they wrestled the Serie A title off Juventus last season, which ended the Nerazzurri‘s 11 -year wait for the Italian championship.
Under Conte at the San Siro, Lukaku netted 64 goals in 95 games across two campaigns, but following the Italian coach’s abrupt departure in the summer, the 28-year-old marksman also parted company from Inter, joining European champions Chelsea for £97.5m in August.
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Since renewing his association with Chelsea, Lukaku has bagged four goals in eight games and recently returned to Italian soil as the Blues took on Juventus in the Champions League group stages, though he fired a blank as Thomas Tuchel’s men fell to a 1-0 loss on Wednesday night.
Speaking recently about Lukaku’s strengths, Conte name-dropped a certain Erling Haaland as the striker whom he believes most resembles Belgium’s all-time record goalscorer, with both exceptionally gifted at collecting the ball deep and driving at defenders.
“He is a very specific striker. Bringing Lukaku into the box, he is dangerous. However, when he starts from midfield, he is incredibly quick. It is very difficult to find a player who is both a target man, but can also run from midfield,” Conte told Sky Sport Italia.
“These are also characteristics I can see in Erling Haaland. I had been tracking Lukaku for a very long time and wanted him when I was at Chelsea, even when he was at West Brom.
“It’s a tactical situation too, a centre-forward who goes looking for the opposition defender, backs into him and lays it off for whoever is supporting him. That is a tactical approach used in basketball as well.
“The good thing about Romelu is that he can hurt you anywhere. If you keep him far away from the penalty area, he can kill you with his pace. If you have him in the box, he has the physicality to be a target man.”