Romelu Lukaku gunning for Real Madrid and tipped to be a hit by Ruud van Nistelrooy

Manchester United signed Romelu Lukaku from Everton for £75 million almost a fortnight ago now and in the three matches played since the signing was confirmed, the Belgian striker has been going from strength to strength with his new teammates. Lukaku has played against LA Galaxy, failing to score a goal on his debut in the 5-2 victory over the MLS side. United then beat Real Salt Lake 2-1 in which the Belgian scored the winning goal and then the Manchester derby in Houston, Texas, Lukaku scored the opening goal against Manchester City in the 37th minute after beating the goalkeeper by heading the ball and firing on target from a difficult angle, putting United ahead against their cross-city rivals. Lukaku will now face both Real Madrid and Barcelona, two of the best teams in Europe in a bid to find his goalscoring boots against better opposition.

Lukaku has been training with his United teammates since his signing was announced by the Old Trafford club with United using the UCLA complex in Los Angeles for the best part of a fortnight before leaving for the San Francisco Bay Area on Saturday where they will face Real Madrid at the San Francisco 49ers Levi’s Stadium on Sunday. United will then head over to the East Coast where they will face Barcelona at the Washington Redskins FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, close to the capital city, Washington DC. The Belgian spoke to the official Manchester United website over the past few days discussing the hard work put in whilst getting ready for the new season, his goal against City, the match against Real Madrid, how he and United wants to play the best teams and how he wants to see United attack, attack, attack. Speaking about working hard, Lukaku said:

“I am really delighted with the work that we are putting in. We are working very hard. The manager is putting his tactical concepts to us and we are doing very well on the pitch. We want to continue like that.”

Lukaku then spoke about his second goal for United against Manchester City where he beat the goalkeeper by heading the ball, coming wide of the target and firing his diagonal shot into the back of the net beating the advancing defenders who were trying to clear the ball. The Belgian who stated it was ‘instinct’ said:

“It was a move that we work on in training on a daily basis. The pass was brilliant, the run was okay and it was just basically instinct. It was good to be part of the derby. To get the win as well was important. For us it was a good training session. The guys are fitter now and we have to keep working.”

United face Real Madrid at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Sunday afternoon (late in the evening in the United Kingdom) and Lukaku, as well as his United teammates, are feasting at the opportunity of going head-to-head with the reigning La Liga and UEFA Champions League holders, said:

“Like the manager says, for us it is going to be a good training session and a good workout to see how we are improving and getting his concepts. They are going to be a tough opponents but we are here to work hard, to get fitter and to get better as we get closer to the new season.”

Also confirming that Manchester United want to take on the best teams, similar to what teammate Paul Pogba said on Saturday, Lukaku said:

“Yeah of course, this is what you want. A big club like Manchester United always want to play against the best clubs and win as well. We are working really hard and we are doing out best to keep the momentum going, and that is the main goal.”

For the past four seasons now, on the terraces at Old Trafford or on the road, when United have been lacklustre, which has happened many times, the supporters had chanted ‘attack, attack, attack’. Lukaku wants to bring that to Old Trafford and beyond this coming season, as does the manager, Jose Mourinho and the Belgian striker’s teammates. Lukaku said:

“We can do it all. The manager is helping us through it as well. We are really hungry and working hard to get even better. We are doing the stuff right, hopefully we are improving and we can take it into the season as well.”

Former Manchester United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, who will play for the club again in September against Barcelona at Old Trafford as part of the ‘legends are back’ match, has praised United’s newest signing, Romelu Lukaku. The Dutch hitman, who scored 150 goals in 219 appearances for the Old Trafford club before leaving for Real Madrid, scoring 64 goals in 96 appearances, Hamburger SV, scoring 17 goals in 44 matches and finally Malaga, scoring five goals in 32 appearances, the player then retired from the game and concentrated on coaching. Van Nistelrooy, who clearly knows a goalscoring striker when he sees commented on the first time he saw Lukaku play, telling the official Manchester United website:

“I actually remember playing against Romelu Lukaku. I was at Hamburg, he was at Anderlecht, and it was in the Europa League. He had made his professional debut at a very young age, I think he was 16 when he first started playing in Belgium. I was so impressed with his fitness and physical ability, as well as his touch. His will to succeed was incredible, he never gave in and always kept fighting. Even from a young age, I was impressed by him.”

When asked about the Belgian striker’s best attributes, the Dutchman said:

“Physically, he’s unbelievably strong and, with the pace he has, he often puts away the chances he gets. I think he’s one of the true number nines, like Harry Kane at Tottenham – they’re strong centre-forwards who are also a reference point during the build-up play. Romelu is strong on the ball but also when making runs and finishing chances.”

Van Nistelrooy was then asked how he feels Romelu Lukaku would fare whilst playing in the famous red shirt of Manchester United and making that mental step up from Everton, saying:

“Well, he’s proven himself at Everton. His challenge now is to make another step up and to prove himself at his new club as well. It’s different playing at United to playing at Everton, so it will be a mental step, too. The pressure is different, so if he’s capable of dealing with that, I can’t see any problems. I also think having better players around him will help and I think he’ll fit in really well. I expect he’ll start hitting his peak now. From the club’s point of view, it’s the perfect time to sign him. Over the next six, seven or eight years, United will hopefully have a great centre-forward in Romelu Lukaku.”

The Dutchman was then asked about the impact of manager Jose Mourinho on Lukaku and how the Belgian would adapt. Van Nistelrooy, praising the Portuguese manager of Manchester United, said:

“Well, I don’t think he could be playing for a better manager than Jose Mourinho. He will help and guide Lukaku through this stage in his career and, if he has any difficulty, Jose has the experience and advice to get players back on track. I think that combination will prove a very successful one.”

When asked if he had a message for Lukaku, Van Nistelrooy said: “Yes… good luck, Romelu”. United certainly have a highly regarded striker in their hands ahead of the most important season post-Sir Alex Ferguson. A player who has consistently scored goals in the Premier League and one who is looking to increase his playing abilities and learn from the best players in the best competitions. Lukaku will be expected to help steer United into contenders to challenge for the Premier League title this coming season and also show his abilities in Europe’s elite competition, the UEFA Champions League with United returning to the competition for the first time since the start of the 2015/16 season, where they exited the tournament at the group stage, falling into the UEFA Europa League that season, exiting at the hands of Liverpool.

United failed to quality for the Champions League at the end of that season, finishing fifth in the league and earning a Europa League group stage berth, in hwhich they ended the season lifting the only trophy the club had not won before, earning the group stage place in the Champions League, also finishing sixth in the Premier League, the competition United fell short in last season, needing to raise their game this coming season. Lukaku could just aid that if everything works out well for United.

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