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How brilliant is Inter's Romelu Lukaku?

The Belgium striker returned to Serie A on loan from Chelsea in the summer, but how much do you know about a 29-year-old with an acronym for a name?

Romelu Lukaku after scoring for Inter in the UEFA Champions League in October
Romelu Lukaku after scoring for Inter in the UEFA Champions League in October Getty Images

Chelsea's record signing, and the second most expensive player to join a Premier League club after Manchester City's Jack Grealish, Romelu Lukaku moved back to Serie A side Inter on a season-long loan deal from the Blues in the summer.

What is it about the 29-year-old that makes him such a sought-after commodity among Europe's top sides? UEFA.com investigates.

What they say

"He is a great player, will bring many goals and gives us even more options up front. He's working with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of desire. He's a very important player for us – he missed two months [through injury] and it was a big loss."
Simone Inzaghi, Inter coach

"He is one of the best strikers in the world. He already had important physical and technical skills but we made him progress even more – his presence in the match, his teamwork and clarity in front of goal."
Antonio Conte, former Inter coach

"He's humble. He wants to learn all the time, he wants to improve all the time and the ambition is there."
José Mourinho, former Manchester United manager

"At the age of 23, I always believed he had the possibility of becoming the best No9 in world football because he has absolutely everything."
Roberto Martínez, Belgium coach

Current tally

International: 102 appearances, 68 goals
UEFA club competition: 73 appearances, 40 goals
Domestic competition: 482 appearances, 226 goals

All of Romelu Lukaku's EURO goals

Claims to fame

• One of 13 youth players who joined Anderlecht in 2006 from relegated Lierse, for whom he had scored 121 goals in 68 youth games, Lukaku became their youngest player when he made his debut just 11 days after his 16th birthday on 24 May 2009 – in a Belgian championship decider against Standard Liège (a 1-0 loss).

• Scored 20 minutes into his top-flight debut against Zulte Waregem, a nonchalant back-heel to convert a low cross. "After scoring I dived into a sea of happiness," he said.

• Still only 16, he was the 15-goal top scorer in his first full season in the Belgian top flight as Anderlecht won the title.

• Went one goal better the following season but Anderlecht missed out on the championship. Promptly joined Chelsea, taking the No18 shirt.

Lukaku in the colours of Anderlecht
Lukaku in the colours of AnderlechtGetty Images

Chelsea (first spell)
• Failed to find the net in 15 outings for Chelsea in all competitions. Indeed, he made only one league start in three seasons on their books – a man-of-the-match performance against Blackburn on the final day of 2011/12.

• Spent 2012/13 and 2013/14 on loan at West Brom (17 goals) and Everton (16) respectively.

• One of only four players – after Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and Wayne Rooney – to reach 80 Premier League goals before the age of 24.

• Finished 2016/17 with 25 Premier League goals, making him the first Everton player since Gary Lineker in 1985/86 to score 20 or more in a league season.

• Scored in nine successive home league games during 2016/17, matching the club record set by Dixie Dean in 1934.

• His 68 Premier League goals for Everton is more than any other player has scored for the club.

Five great Lukaku Europa League goals

Manchester United
• Scored on his debut for the club in the UEFA Super Cup, Premier League and UEFA Champions League on his way to racking up ten goals in his first nine appearances, breaking Bobby Charlton's club record.

• Became the fifth youngest player to reach 100 Premier League goals, taking 216 games to reach his century.

Inter (first spell)
• Matched Ronaldo's record of nine goals in his first 11 league games for the club and became the first Nerazzurri player to score 15 away goals in a Serie A season for 70 years.

• Scored in the UEFA Europa League final against Sevilla to make it 11 consecutive appearances in the competition with a goal – the longest run by a player in UEFA Cup/Europa League history.

Lukaku's 11-in-a-row in the Europa League

• Reached 50 goals for the club in only 70 matches – seven games quicker than previous record-holder Ronaldo.

• Top scorer with 24 league goals as Inter won their first Scudetto for 11 years in 2020/21.

Chelsea (second spell)
• Rejoined Chelsea on a five-year deal in August 2021.

• Helped the Blues finish third in the league and reach both domestic cup finals, but they were beaten on penalties by Liverpool on both occasions.

Inter (second spell)
Returned to Inter on a season-long loan from Chelsea in June 2022, scoring within two minutes in his first Serie A appearance of his second stint.

• Third youngest player to appear for Belgium, winning his first cap aged 16 against Croatia in February 2010. In November of that year, then 17, he scored his first senior goals for his country in a 2-0 friendly victory away to Russia.

• Became Belgium's all-time top scorer with 31 goals in June 2018, breaking a three-way tie with Bernard Voorhoof and Paul Van Himst.

• Was the sole Belgium player named in the UEFA EURO 2020 Team of the Tournament after scoring four in five games.

• Became the sixth man to reach a century of caps for Belgium against the Czech Republic in September 2021, scoring his 67th international goal on his 100th appearance.

What you might not know

• The name Romelu is an acronym, composed of the first two letters of his father's three names: Roger Menama Lukaku.

• Lukaku has a rich footballing pedigree. His father Roger was capped at international level by Zaire, younger brother Jordan plays for Ponferradina at left-back and cousin Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo is at Mechelen.

Jordan and Romelu Lukaku together
Jordan and Romelu Lukaku togetherAFP

• Lukaku speaks Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Lingala, English, Italian and also understands German.

What he says

"When they talk about [Robert] Lewandowski, [Karim] Benzema, [Luis] Suárez, [Harry] Kane, they say they are world class but with me it's always about being in good form. In the last two years I think I have shown it's not just good form. I belong with that group. I am at that level."
On his performances over the past two seasons

"Things didn't work. Things have to be said as they are: if a better offer comes from somewhere else or you can try something different, why not try it? I did it and I saw that works."
On leaving Manchester United for Inter

Lukaku and strike partner Lautaro Martínez after winning the title with Inter
Lukaku and strike partner Lautaro Martínez after winning the title with InterInter via Getty Images

"I don't like people talking to me about the Champions League. It wasn't me, but my team that won. When [Salomon] Kalou put the cup on my lap in the bus I asked him to take it away immediately. I didn't want to touch it because I had no part in it at all."
On Chelsea winning the Champions League in 2012

"It's like coming back home. I think that my family and I were really happy in Milan thanks to the fans and my team-mates. From the first day I arrived, everyone helped me so much."
On rejoining Inter in 2022

What he might achieve yet

• Lukaku did not score in the UEFA Champions League (group stage to final) until 2017 but now has 16 goals. The Belgian record of 17, set by Luc Nilis and Van Himst, will surely fall soon.

• Jan Ceulemans and Lukaku are the only Belgian internationals to score at two different EUROs. The Chelsea striker looks a good bet to complete his hat-trick in 2024.

• At EURO 2020, Cristiano Ronaldo equalled former Iran forward Ali Daei's world record of 109 international goals and he moved on to 117 by the start of November 2022. Lukaku was 49 adrift at that point but is eight years younger than the Portuguese. The heir to the throne?

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