Less than 24 hours after hinting his future lay away from Chelsea, Romelu Lukaku has thanked Everton manager Roberto Martinez for the development in his all-round game
Romelu Lukaku has acknowledged the one-to-one work instigated by Everton boss Roberto Martinez has been a driving force behind his rapid development towards becoming the complete striker.
The Belgian striker, signed by Chelsea from Anderlecht in 2011 for an initial £8m fee, has impressed in both his loan deals at West Bromwich Albion and Everton. But it is his time spent at Everton under the studious eye of Roberto Martinez that Lukaku believes has helped him quickly mature into an all-round centre forward.
The impact of Martinez’s work with Lukaku, the 21-year old Antwerp born front-man scored 16 goals in helping Everton finish fifth in the Premier League and securing European football for the first time since 2009/10, has seen him rapidly become one of the hottest properties in European football.
Lukaku on Martinez:
“I always used to look at running into the space in front of me,” explained Lukaku. “But now I know I can also play with my back to goal.”
“Roberto Martinez always took the time to work with me on these different aspects of the game.
“I am now much more comfortable with my back to goal, I am enjoying holding the ball up and laying the ball off or playing one-two’s.
“And I am now enjoying working hard for the team and my team mates.”
“You can always improve, and in this aspect I am a perfectionist. I want to score goals, give assists, and make sure my defensive work is up to scratch.
“I am now a more complete striker. I never thought I was a target man, a No.9 who could play with his back to the goal.
I always wanted to run at defenders. That is still a great quality, but now I can do both.
“I love playing as a real striker in the box now.”
Lukaku, who will sit out Belgium’s final pre-tournament game vs Tunisia as a precaution after feeling a tightness in a thigh muscle, feels he is ready to lead the Red Devil’s to World Cup glory although the Chelsea striker is taking nothing for granted.
“I have to keep performing in training and prove to the coach that I am worth a place in the starting line-up,” said Lukaku.
“Nobody is certain of their place in this team.”
Lukaku has so far scored four goals in Belgium’s two World Cup warm-up games, and although the hat-trick he bagged against minnows Luxembourg has officially been scratched by FIFA, Big Rom is refusing to dwell on the past.
“On to the next one,” he told reporters. “I’m not thinking about that anymore.”
“I still have my goal against Sweden, we’ve won two games and played well in both. That is more important than those three goals.
“And anyway, I still have the match-ball from the Luxembourg game in a special place.”
“I have been playing all season for a team [Everton] which has had more than 60 percent of the time possession of the ball. Technically I have been improving as a player.
“I play for a manager [Roberto Martinez] who makes his team play really good football and I don’t have to chase the ball all the time.
“Getting the ball so often close to the goal becomes a natural thing,” explained Lukaku.
“My concentration is better than ever on finishing, rather than on running with the ball.
“I am absolutely convinced that moving to Everton was the best step in my career,” he said.
“When you feel everything is working out, it makes you so relaxed and happy as a player in big matches.”
“If as a forward you play say 35 games and score only eight goals then I could understand it would be difficult to ignore [any criticism].”
“I’m not complaining here but sometimes you also hear: Romelu, you’ve played 30 games, scored 15 goals but every game you miss-control two balls.”
“It’s OK, I know I have good stats and that my team has played well; that’s the most important thing, not any other nonsense.”
There will no room for criticism if Romelu Lukaku can carry his scoring form through to the World Cup finals.