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Lukaku: Continuous criticism of Chelsea striker is totally unfounded
The big Belgian player has come under fire for not adjusting to life on his return to Stamford Bridge.
Indeed, many scenarios and outcomes become trends in quick time, which then turn into conversation even in the mainstream media.
One player that has consistently been in the discussion is Romelu Lukaku.
The 28-year-old has been in the spotlight since he failed to initially nail a spot in the Chelsea first team. His career then blossomed when he moved to Everton, took a dip at Manchester United, blossomed again at Inter Milan, and now question marks back again at Chelsea.
Lukaku was purchased by Chelsea with the hope of sorting out their finishing struggles under Thomas Tuchel. It looked like he was up and running after netting four goals in his first four games, including a debut strike at Arsenal. He however failed to find the back of the net in his next games, this coupled with a foot injury he suffered in October which kept him out for almost a month, missing six games.
Within that period, Chelsea seemed to get their goalscoring groove on, looking very confident even in the absence of a recognized striker with high-scoring victories against Norwich City (7-0), Newcastle United (3-0), Leicester City (3-0) and Juventus (4-0). It led to conversations that Lukaku was not really needed and Chelsea can actually do without a striker.
What has followed is criticism of Lukaku's form and commitment which led to him deactivating his Twitter account.
It is rather unfair that Lukaku has been targeted time and time again for his abilities and not doing enough, these criticisms often leading to racist abuse online.
Lukaku is a brilliant striker in his own right and deserves respect for his achievements. He might not have won many titles in his career, but his goals speak for themselves. More than 250 career club goals is not something many strikers can boast about during their active years. Not forgetting the 68 goals he has with the Belgium national team that makes him the country's all-time top scorer and joint 19th highest international scorer in the history of the game.
Of course he might have weaknesses like his defensive contributions, but which player does not have a weakness? What then exactly is there to dislike about Lukaku?
If he is struggling for form as he currently is at Chelsea, it is understandable. It is a new environment with a new style of play and it will take time for him to adapt. Blues’ boss Tuchel can be trusted to bring out the best in Lukaku that will make him start firing on all cylinders. These things however come in phases and will need time and patience. Tuchel clearly sees so much value in Lukaku even without him scoring.
"People look for one reason that things go one way or the other. But life is not like this, life is not that easy, and life in a football team is not that easy," the former PSG manager said.
"We started strong and we started the season with Romelu. The things he brings when he is in the dressing room, in the building, even when he is injured, he is every day here, positive, determined, he pushes everybody. He is a top professional and a top, top striker. He will be super and he is actually, in the moment, very important."
It is very upsetting that football followers do not have the patience and understanding to realize football players are not machines. Yes, they might earn a fortune, but they are still humans with feelings and emotions.
Despite what was a below par stint at Man United, Lukaku still managed to have a hand in 55 goals (42 goals, 13 assists) in 96 competitive games. If that is not seen as good enough in the face of a struggle, then followers of the game today need more understanding of what the big Belgian puts in.
Lukaku is a top quality striker without any iota of doubt. There just needs to be a style of play that will suit him to bring out his best. No surprises his best career stints have come under Roberto Martinez at Everton and Belgium and Antonio Conte at Inter Milan. The latter wanted him while he was manager of Chelsea, but he instead got Alvaro Morata with Lukaku going to Man United. It was never in doubt that Lukaku would click under Conte and it was instant, with his flourishing partnership with Lautaro Martinez.
In the same vein, it is expected that Lukaku would forge a good relationship with Timo Werner. As stated, it just takes time and patience.
It is not baffling Lukaku deactivated his Twitter account because he needs his sanity to deliver at the highest level, not toxic talk that will affect his mental health.
Lukaku's action is exactly why the Premier League is pushing hard to stop online hate and abuse. It is sad that it is still continuing despite all the efforts.
If fans continue with their unfair judgement of Lukaku, they might be the ones left with regret, because he will end up moving elsewhere and have another refreshing time like he had at Inter.
Such an environment where his talent is appreciated is what he earnestly needs.
Kunle is an avid writer with interest in topics on sports, politics and health. His articles have featured in Goal.com, Opera News and Vanguard News. He holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in International Relations and is an advocate for people living with Hydrocephalus and other neurological conditions.
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