Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku has proven he is more than just a centre-forward, according to Dimitar Berbatov.
The Belgian has had to work for his place in United’s starting XI under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the caretaker manager favouring Marcus Rashford as his forward.
Is Lukaku under-appreciated? Five key things to know…
- Romelu Lukaku signed for Manchester United from Everton in 2017, scoring 27 goals in his first season.
- But the Belgian has come under some criticism this season for his struggles under Jose Mourinho.
- The arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, combined with an injury, has seen Marcus Rashford play centrally.
- As a result, Lukaku has been forced out wide, but Dimitar Berbatov believes the Belgian has now shown how good he is.
- Romelu Lukaku has scored 10+ goals in each of the past seven Premier League campaigns.
This has seen Lukaku played slightly wider of late, including in United’s goalless draw against Liverpool on Sunday. And, though he scored twice in his return to a central position in midweek, Berbatov believes Lukaku has the capability of being a danger from the wings.
“I like Romelu Lukaku and he’s earned a place in the first XI,” he told Betfair.
“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.”
Subscribe to Squawka’s Youtube channel: sqwk.at/Squawka-Sub
The Bulgarian also hailed Lukaku’s passing ability, comparing him to Spanish legends Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
He added: “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.”
Lukaku’s future at Old Trafford
With Rashford leading the line for Manchester United, there were some doubts raised over the future of Lukaku at the club.
But his performances out wide have shown United fans that Lukaku can still be a big part of the team, something Solskjaer was keen to stress in the midst of the January transfer window.
“I used to be one of four strikers when we played with two. Now we have six forwards and we play with three,” he said at the time.
“There are enough games. It is about taking your chances when you get them.”
And Lukaku will be hoping he can build on his two goals against Crystal Palace, which ended a run of eight games without a goal in all competitions for United.
The Belgian will welcome the arrival, then, of Premier League strugglers Southampton on Saturday having scored in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.