Antonio Conte has claimed Romelu Lukaku would not be out of place playing American Football, as he hailed the Inter star’s “atypical” style of play.
Lukaku has been in sensational form throughout his Inter career. Last season – his first campaign with the Serie A giants – he finished with 23 league goals; only Ronaldo (25) and Istvan Nyers (26) have scored more in their debut seasons with the Nerazzurri.
The 27-year-old Belgium forward also netted 30 times across all competitions for the first time in his career, and equalled Ronaldo’s record from 1997-98 of 34 goals for Inter.
Lukaku has also struck up a brilliant relationship with fellow forward Lautaro Martinez.
Indeed, across the opening 23 Serie A games this term, the duo have combined for 30 goals – Lukaku scoring 17 times and Martinez adding another 13. It is the first time Inter have a pair of players having combined for as many goals after as many matches since 1958-59.
Lukaku made his mark in last week’s Milan derby, setting up Martinez’s opener before sealing a dominant 3-0 victory with a sublime solo goal.
“It’s too easy to say that,” Conte told Il Corriere della Sera when it was put to him that some fans had described Lukaku as “unstoppable”.
“I wish Lukaku and Lautaro were given more space inside the box. I don’t think it’s a good thing for defenders.”
— Inter (@Inter_en) February 26, 2021
Lukaku, through his time with both Everton and Manchester United prior to his move to Inter, was often at his best driving at goal from deep.
In particular at Everton, his now-international boss Roberto Martinez occasionally used him on the right flank to good effect, giving Lukaku the freedom to burst inside at pace onto his stronger left foot.
And Conte believes Lukaku would have been able to make a career in American Football, such is his physique and power.
“Lukaku is an atypical player, he is a speedy centre forward, he could play American Football,” Conte added.
Earlier in the week, Belgium boss Martinez spoke highly of Lukaku, who he managed for three seasons at Everton before his departure in 2016, though the Spaniard swiftly landed a job in charge of the striker’s national team.
“He scores like few others,” Martinez told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Create and score, create and score, create and score…
“He arrived in Milan at the perfect moment. He became a complete player, obviously thanks to Conte. Today, at his age, there are no strikers as strong as him.
“In the past, Romelu always had the potential to be able to do what he is demonstrating in Milan. For me it’s not a surprise.”