Romelu Lukaku

Lukaku ‘didn’t have the energy’ for another year at Man Utd

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Romelu Lukaku has revealed he “didn’t have the energy” for another year or the constant criticism and drama which he endured during his final season at Manchester United, prompting him to leave for Inter Milan last summer.

[ MORE: Report: Donnarumma learning English ahead of PL move ]

Speaking to Arsenal legend Ian Wright in a video interview on Wright’s YouTube channel (video above), Lukaku opened up about his second-season struggles at Old Trafford and explained his thought process which ultimately led him to leave Man United for $90 million — excerpts from Sky Sports:

“One bad year can happen to everybody in their career. It was just done for me. You know what happened behind the scenes, it was just done. For me, it was done.

“It was a difficult situation where for myself I had to make a decision where I have to go somewhere where I can learn other aspects of my game and work with somebody that wanted me as well.

“Ole [Gunnar Solskjaer] wanted me to stay, but I told him I was over. I didn’t have the energy. All credit to him because he’s been a man and he helped me make the move away.”

“It’s a club that gave me a platform that I’ve never seen in my life, so for me to be disrespectful about Man United or any other club I played for in England, I think, is a bit childish. I think I went past that stage of talking back to people.”

As for where he landed, Lukaku revealed that Inter and Juventus were both interested in acquiring his services, but it was the chance to play for Antonio Conte which sold him on the club from Milan.

“It was close. It was really close but my mind was always set on Inter… and the manager. When I was a kid, Inter was my team in Italy. I looked up to Adriano and Ronaldo.

“Obviously when Inter came, the club, the manager Conte that wanted me at Chelsea and when he was at Juve as well, I was like now it’s time to go over there and see what it’s like, but just keep my head down and work.”

VIDEO: Lukaku continues tear with goal in opening 20 seconds

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Romelu Lukaku has settled in quite well since joining Inter Milan from Manchester United last summer, hasn’t he?

[ MORE: Inter Milan still chasing January deal for Christian Eriksen ]

The 26-year-old Belgian forward already has 14 Serie A goals (in 19 games) to his name, plus another four in various other competitions, including the opening goal in Inter’s 4-1 Coppa Italia victory over Cagliari on Tuesday.

Just like he hasn’t taken long to get started in his Inter career, Lukaku needed very little time to start firing on Tuesday. He struck the ball with 00:20 on the clock, and by the time it read 00:21 he had already put Inter 1-0 ahead.

That 20th-second strike stood up as the potential game-winner for more than 70 minutes, until Cagliari pulled a consolation goal back late. Fortunately for Inter, Lukaku had already bagged his second of the game (49th minute), sandwiching a supplementary goal from Borja Valero in the first half. Andrea Ranocchia tacked on a late insurance goal and Inter are through to the quarterfinals on Jan. 29.

[ FA CUP: Spurs do just enough to beat Boro, reach 4th round (video) ]

Lukaku’s early successes at Inter have been such that it almost seems impossible that he could have been anything but a similarly raging success at Manchester United. If Inter manage to do the unthinkable — dethrone Juventus by winning the Serie A title — he’ll almost certainly be remembered as the key protagonist. After Tuesday’s game, Lukaku sounded like a player who was back to enjoying the game when he gave all credit to his Inter teammates, coaches, staff and fans — translation via Google:

“Did I settle in well at Inter? The merit is of the teammates, the coach, the staff and the fans. Inter was the best option for me, I can help this team to achieve its ambitions. I am a team man, I only think of the team, not me.”

Serie A roundup: Handanovic saves late penalty, earns Inter draw against Atalanta (video)

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on his first start for AC Milan, but Atalanta’s shock draw at San Siro highlights Saturday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Inter Milan 1-1 Atalanta 

Samir Handanovic’s last penalty save on Atalanta’s Luis Muriel bagged a point for top-of-the-table Inter Milan on Saturday, moving them a point clear of second-place Juventus.

Lautaro Martinez put Antonio Conte‘s side in front of the visitor’s in the fourth minute, following a pair of passes between the him and Romelu Lukaku.

But with with the clock winding down, Robin Gosens tied it up for Atalanta, finishing one of the six clear chances the side had at the San Siro on Saturday.

13 minutes later, with two minutes remaining in regular time, the visitor’s had their best opportunity yet to edge Inter. Handanovic, however, dived to his right side, blocking Muriel’s attempt on goal from the spot.

Inter remain atop of the table with 46 points, but Juventus have a clear-cut chance to surpass I Nerazzurri if they defeat AS Roma away on Sunday.

Atalanta remain in the fifth spot with 35 points, level with fourth-place Roma.

Inter host Cagliari on Tuesday in the Round of 16 of the Coppa Italia, while Gian Piero Gasperini’s men travel Florence to take on Fiorentina in the same tournament.

Elsewhere

Cagliari 0-2 AC Milan

Lazio 1-0 Napoli

Lukaku dominates as Inter beat Napoli, stay level with Juve (video)

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Romelu Lukaku scored twice as Inter Milan cruised to a 3-1 win over Napoli on Monday to pull even with Juventus atop the table and further their bid to unseat eight-time Serie A champions.

[ MORE: Report: D.C. United holds talks with Luka Modric ]

Inter extended its unbeaten run to 11 games (eight wins) in the process and moved back to a level points total with Juve, though they remain second in the title race due to head-to-head points (Juve won 3-1 at the San Siro in October).

Lukaku scored the game’s first and second goals, putting Inter 2-0 ahead after 33 minutes. The first came just before the quarter-hour mark, when the big Belgian striker dribbled half the length of the field, beating two defenders before pinging his left-footed strike on the inside of the post from near the top of the 18-yard box.

It was 2-0 just beyond the half-hour mark, and it was Lukaku again, though goal no. 2 was much more about goalkeeper Alex Meret’s shocking howler than Lukaku’s obvious quality. Lukaku took what appeared to be nothing more than a speculative shot from near the corner of the box, only for Meret to watch it go through his hands and bounce over the goal line.

[ MORE: AC Milan blanked by Sampdoria on Zlatan’s return ]

Napoli pulled a goal back through Arkadiusz Milik six minutes later, but it was the first time — and turned out to be one of a very few times — in which Napoli created a threatening scoring chance.

Lautaro Martinez restored Inter’s two-goal lead with an opportune strike following a defensive error in the 62nd minute, and that was the final blow to Napoli’s hopes of an upset on the day.

With 20 of 38 games still to be played, including a head-to-head matchup on March 1, Inter appear to be legitimate title contenders — perhaps the first in Juve’s near-decade of dominance — who will take the title race to the very end of the season. Napoli, meanwhile, sit 8th in the league table, 11 points off the Champions League places, after entering the season as one of three presumed title contenders.

Serie A roundup: Lukaku registers brace, Inter defeat Genoa (video)

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Inter Milan’s 4-0 victory over Genoa highlights Saturday’s Serie A action.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Inter 4-0 Genoa

Romelu Lukaku scored two goals and registered an assist as Inter Milan smothered struggling Genoa to go level with Juventus at the top of the Serie A table.

Antonio Conte‘s side go into winter break with a ten-game unbeaten streak powering them.

What was a stellar night for Lukaku ended up being one of the best days in teenage forward Sebastiano Esposito’s young life.

With an opportunity to record a hat trick after Inter were awarded a penalty, the Belgian forward handed he responsibility to the 17-year-old. Esposito converted the second-half penalty, becoming the second youngest player to score for the Italian giant.

Following the match, the youngster rushed to hug his mother while in tears.

“It’s been a fantastic week, I can’t lie, I didn’t sleep a lot thinking about how this game would go,” Esposito said. “I’d like to thank the team, the coach, the club and Romelu, especially for the goal … He told me to be sure of myself when I stepped up to strike the ball and to score.

“They’re all great people before they’re professionals. I found myself in sync with Romelu right away, he’s a fantastic person who’s always looking to help me, he reassured me a lot by saying that everything would go alright and I’m so happy to have scored.”

 

Joining the senior team over the summer, Esposito made his Champions League debut in October.

“He was practically a child when he arrived at the training camp this summer, but he’s grown massively in the last few months and I had said that at some unexpected point I’d be counting on him in times of need,” Inter coach Antonio Conte said.

“He had a big chance today and he certainly made the most of it. He’s got a great future ahead of him, both his family and myself will help him, and if he continues like this then he’ll only improve.”

Esposito will have plenty of time to soak it in as Inter’s two-week break is officially underway.

Elsewhere

Udinese 2-1 Cagliari

Torino 1-2 SPAL