Romelu Lukaku has said training with Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the “most beautiful” thing about his Manchester United career.
The pair were Man Utd’s striking options in the first half of the 2017/18 season before Ibrahimovic moved to LA Galaxy in MLS.
Lukaku vs Ibrahimovic: Five things to know…
- Ibrahimovic arrived at Old Trafford on a free transfer in 2016, signing a one-year deal.
- He scored 17 Premier League goals in the 2016/17 season and was Man Utd’s top scorer.
- A serious knee injury appeared to cut his Man Utd spell short, and Lukaku was brought in in the summer of 2017.
- He replaced Ibrahimovic, who only made five league appearances in Lukaku’s debut season.
- But Lukaku fell a goal short of Ibrahimovic’s return in their respective debut campaigns, scoring 16 in the Premier League.
The two target men face off this weekend in a much anticipated Milan derby, as Lukaku continues to spearhead Inter’s title charge. The Belgian has scored 16 goals in 22 Serie A appearances this season and came up with the goods again last time amount against Udinese, scoring a match-winning brace.
Ibrahimovic has got off the mark in Italy following his sensational return to AC Milan after a successful spell in MLS. The Swedish striker may be 38 years old but is continuing to show doubters that he can cut it at the highest level.
Ibrahimovic acted as something of a mentor to Lukaku whilst the pair worked together at Old Trafford. Both players were at separate ends of their careers and Lukaku was a big fan of what the Swede achieved throughout his illustrious career.
“Ibra is a champion, I respect him,” he told Tiki Taka, as reported by Goal.
“In Manchester I could train every day with him, that was the most beautiful thing for me.
“It will be nice to play against him. He is a great champion and professional.
“For me it’s normal that he can do those things at the age of 38. He works a lot; he always gave me advice when we played together in Manchester. He’s up there with Ronaldo.”
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A Manchester United reunion
Lukaku and Ibrahimovic will not be the only players with United links lining up at the San Siro on Sunday.
Inter and Antonio Conte clearly have a taste for the Red Devils’ stars: Ashley Young joined the club in January, following Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to Italy. Sanchez joined the Nerazzurri despite Man Utd’s forward shortage in the summer but has struggled thus far, having only made nine appearances and managing a single goal due to injury.
The arrival of Christian Eriksen is likely to put Sanchez further down the pecking order too – the Dane, another player who could well have joined Man Utd, arrived from Tottenham Hotspur last month as Conte hopes to knock Juventus off their perch.