Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku has hit back at critics and disgruntled fans after a recent scoring drought, explaining that he cannot yet be judged as 'the finished article' while he is still finding his way and developing.
Signed for £75m, rising to £90m, during the summer, Lukaku started the season in fine goalscoring form after netting 11 times in his first 10 games in all competitions. He hasn't scored since 30th September - a run of six games - and the critics are getting louder.
Manager Jose Mourinho even felt the need to recently step in and publicly defend the Belgian international after audible heckling from his own fans.
"I think a lot of people are judging me as the finished article," Lukaku has offered as a response in an interview with Sky Sports.
"I'm 24 - you can't judge me as the finished article. I'd rather have a year where I improve, improve, improve rather than going straight to the top and then declining," he added.
"I know I have a lot of talent. I can do a lot of stuff, score goals with my left, right and head. But I want to be a creator - I want to have more assists. I want to make sure when my team is having difficulties they can count on me.
"I'm on the perfect stage and the perfect age. I want to be a winner and take my career to the next level."
Lukaku will have the perfect opportunity to answer his critics this weekend when he faces former club Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. A win for United could see them put seven points between themselves and the reigning champions in the Premier League table.