Ex-Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku has hit out at being made a scapegoat for the failings of his former club, insisting that it was always he who was targeted alongside Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez by fans and the media in the need to assign some sort of blame.
Lukaku recently joined Inter in a £73m move, but it seems clear that he is frustrated at being labelled a flop when most of the squad underperformed during his two years at the club.
He also cites his excellent record at international level with Belgium during the same period to contest the argument that the problem at United was him.
“They’ve got to find somebody [to blame]. I’ll put my hands up, this year I don’t think I was the only one playing bad – a lot of people were playing bad. But they have to find the culprit,” Lukaku told the told the latest Lightharted Podcast with Josh Hart – a chat that appears to have actually been recorded shortly before he sealed his exit from Manchester.
“Either it’s Pogba or it’s me, or Alexis. It’s the three of us all the time,” he added.
“For me, it was just s**t, because I think the team has so much potential to do some great stuff. A lot of talent, but it’s not only talent – you have to build the team.”
Lukaku was refreshingly open while speaking about his difficult situation at United.
“A lot of people don’t feel like I should be part of that system, that’s my feeling. I just know. The thing that makes me laugh a lot – how the hell is s**t going bad in my team, but when I play for my national team, it’s good?” the 26-year-old questioned.
“I didn’t play the last three weeks or something before the end of the [Premier League] season, and then I had another three weeks off before I had to come back for the national team. But we go and play with the Belgium team, and [we’re] rolling. And nobody there complains. It took years to change the perception, but Man Utd may not have that time.
“With Belgium we play that style [Man Utd] want to play, and I do well over there. So, is it me?”
Since 2016 alone, Lukaku has scored 37 international goals in 39 appearances. He netted 42 in in 96 games over two seasons with United, with his tally for 2018/19 coming in at just 15.
The Belgian’s transfer to Inter represents a fresh start for him, and the move to play under Antonio Conte at San Siro has been a very long time coming. He was a known target for the Italian coach at Chelsea in 2017 right before he joined United, but Lukaku has also revealed that Conte’s determination to sign him stretches back even further to 2013.
“Antonio Conte really wanted me bad [at Chelsea]. Like, bad, bad” he said.
“He wanted me when he was already at Juventus in 2013. We have a really good relationship; we have the same and agent and stuff. Just his playing style, he needed me [at Juventus].”
Lukaku is seemingly in awe of Conte’s record as a coach, particularly at Juventus, where the ex-Italy national team manager was in charge from 2011 to 2014 and kicked off the club’s current run of eight consecutive Serie A titles and counting.
“The dude won three Italian championships in a row – a three-peat – and one of them was unbeaten, he went the whole season without losing. He came from a team that was at the bottom of the league and took a Juventus team that was seventh the year before [and then went] unbeaten. Think about it,” a clearly blow away Lukaku stated.