April 10, 2021

‘Lukaku is a different animal at Inter’ – Belgian striker wasn’t ‘happy’ at Man Utd, says Ince

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A former Red Devil has been delighted to see the mercurial centre-forward rediscover his best form at San Siro after a testing spell at Old Trafford

Romelu Lukaku is a “different animal” at Inter, according to Paul Ince, who says the Belgian striker wasn’t “happy” at Manchester United.

Lukaku’s two-year stint at Old Trafford came to an end when he completed a £74 million ($97m) move to Inter in August 2019.

Despite the fact that the 27-year-old scored a respectable 42 goals in 96 appearances for the Red Devils, he was subjected to fierce criticism throughout his time in Manchester.

Questions were asked over his fitness levels and technical ability, with doubts also raised over his commitment to United’s cause under both Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

However, Lukaku has enjoyed a huge upturn in form and confidence since arriving at San Siro, scoring 33 goals across all competitions in his debut campaign for the Nerazzurri.

The Belgium international’s latest double helped Antonio Conte’s men beat Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0 in the semi-finals of the Europa League on Monday, and Ince was beaming in his assessment of the in-form forward after the match.

The ex-United midfielder told BT Sport of how Lukaku has turned his career around in Italy: “Lukaku didn’t struggle [to score at United], he scored goals, let’s get that right.

“He wasn’t happy under Mourinho. Sometimes you find the right person, the right country. If you’re happy you will perform.”

Ince added on Lukaku’s overall performance against Shakhtar: “He looked fit and lean. Talking about when he was at Manchester United, he didn’t look like he could get around the park.

“He’s just running past people [now]. Pace! I was fitter at Inter – whether it’s the climate or the food.

“He looks like a different animal. We know he can finish. Wow.”

Owen Hargreaves, another former United midfielder, agreed with Ince’s comments on Lukaku, expressing his belief that the Inter frontman was weighed down by unfair expectations at the Theatre of Dreams.

“I think he got a raw deal at Manchester United,” Hargreaves said. “I think he felt there was a lot of pressure on him.

“He felt he had a point to prove all the time. He almost played like he was carrying that burden.

“Now he looks like he’s in a place where he’s really confident. I think he deserved a little bit better.

“We never questioned his finishing, but at 27 he looks the perfect age. It just shows you, you need to find the right fit for you.

“For whatever reason, it wasn’t there [at Manchester United].”