Ever since his debut for Anderlecht in 2009, Romelu Lukaku was expected to become a world class striker. He had most from the obvious things at such young age – he was 16 at the time – scoring goals, physical strength to fight with centre-backs and predator skills for scrapping loose balls.
It has been eight years since then and Lukaku will finally get a proper chance at a big club. At Chelsea, he was more often playing for reserves than first team and his loans to West Bromwich Albion and Everton were expected. At the two clubs, the Belgian could continue to grow.
Lukaku would go on to score 33 goals in the two seasons he was loaned, but his progress was much more evident after he signed for Everton, this time on a permanent basis. More importantly, that is not a gut feeling – Lukaku’s numbers are showing just that.
Here Come The Numbers
The Belgian improved his goal tally in each of his last three seasons at Everton, scoring respectively 20, 25 and 26 goals. In last of them, 2016-17, Lukaku played 576 minutes less than in 2015-16 – almost six and a half full 90 minutes – but managed to score one goal more.
His goal per 90 minutes ratio over last three seasons is 0.57, which is just over one goal per two matches. Not bad for a young striker, but now is his time to step up at the bigger club. His statistical improvements between 2015-16 and 2016-17 are almost incomparable in other segments, as Lukaku imposed himself as one of the best strikers in the Premier League last season.
Lukaku’s Other Improvements
His goals per 90 minutes improved from 0.56 to 0.68 during last season, but not just that. Lukaku is more precise, taking his chances instead of wasting many. New Manchester United striker had a shooting percentage of 39.7 in 2015-16 Premier League (percentage of shots going on target from all shots), but a year later it rocketed up to 49.5 per cent. One in two of his shots will go on target now.
Yet, there is one segment even more important – his goal conversion percentage. It is a percentage of all shots resulting in goals and Lukaku really improved. His 14.7% in 15-16 Premier League season was now 22% in 16-17. It may sound not that great, but it is a difference between a decent striker and a proper, bang-on striker who will take his chances. Instead of scoring one goal in 6.8 shots, Lukaku improved his stats to score one goal in 4.54 shots.
Lukaku also improved in some other, less important areas, such as successful dribbles per game – which is useful, but not crucial – and he managed to complete 7 assists in each of last two seasons, despite playing much less in 2016-17.
Reasons To Be Optimistic
Therefore, United’s timing for signing Lukaku seems perfect. He had played many seasons in mid-to-top table type of teams West Brom and Everton are and now is his time to shine in the famous red shirt. He will play alongside more creative players Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata are, he will have more chances and his goal-scoring record should continue rising.
Manchester United were one of the lower scoring teams, but only Tottenham conceded less. With Lukaku, the gap between United and champions Chelsea of 31 goals scored should be much smaller, while already good defensive look of Red Devils should give them a great platform for scoring goals. And that is Lukaku’s specialty.