For the past couple of seasons, Everton’s towering front-man has been one of the most sought after strikers in England, with the 22-year-old having been linked to some of Europe’s most illustrious giants time and again.
Dumped so unceremoniously by Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho during the summer of 2014 many started to wonder exactly why he wasn’t deemed good enough for the London club, casting serious doubts over his genuine ability to muscle his way into their plans.
The general consensus at the time from many quarters ran something along the lines of: If he had been good enough for them, he would have enticed the “Special One” to select him for the starting XI more regularly.
Eyebrows were raised, concerns were chimed and speculation mounted.
However, he has since quashed those negative vibes comprehensively and he has grown into his role as a striker with responsibility, shouldering the attacking weight of his current side’s style. In fact, most recently of all, he became the top-scoring Belgian in the Premier League’s history (placing higher than both Eden Hazard and Christian Benteke) with 44 goals to his name; an accolade that underlines just how special a talent he is, and still so incredibly young, too.
Following his master-class performance against last season’s surprise package Southampton at St. Mary’s over the weekend, the positive talk surrounding Lukaku’s ability to be one of the Premier League’s best strikers has grown even more aggressively. With yet more volume than ever before, the roaring conversation has veered in the opposite direction to the conjecture regarding a move away from Goodison Park to further his career, and is now settled on basking in the glory of his individual brilliance.
Sure, as he continues to wow audiences with his stunning displays in the Blue of the Merseyside outfit, the murmurs about a transfer away from Roberto Martinez and his team-mates will grow by the decibel slowly but surely. However, there is still time for him to achieve a great deal where he is right now.
That includes becoming the Premier League’s most effective forward of the season.
With Martinez keen to maintain his best players for a considerably long spell it’s likely that John Stones, Ross Barkley and Lukaku will all stay with the “School of Science” for as long as is humanly possible.
Firing a delightful double past Maarten Stekelenburg in the Saints goals most recently, the precocious poacher exhibited his clinical nature to grab two important goals against a team they had struggled to beat away from home in 14 league visits. In short, the Belgium international’s contributions were a lot more rewarding than simply being the instigators in grabbing all three points.
His inspired performance was a delight to behold as he utilised his speed, strength and precision to maximum effect, but aside from being a tremendous spectacle it also showed precisely why he is needed to help Everton break free from the constricting chains of underachievement that have clung to them for so long.
Scoring 15 league goals in his first season on loan with Everton he then followed that up with an underwhelming 10 in 2014/15, but that was largely due to the manner in which he was often played out of position on the wing, as well as the fact his team-mates strayed away from their attacking duties as the fear of relegation took hold for a number of weeks. Of course, his displays in the Europa League were a real bright light as he netted eight times during their impressive continental run that saw them reach the round of 16.
Now, however, the formidable spark has returned to his play and he looks set to give the likes of Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane a real run for their money in the hunt for the golden boot.
Empowering the vanguard, he will need to link up consistently with Barkley, James McCarthy, Arouna Kone, Seamus Coleman and others, but the signs currently look good that he’ll be able to succeed.
Do so effectively and his individuality could serve to be the springboard for an effective team campaign. They might even exceed the ethereal fifth-place finish they managed back in 2013/14 on the strength of his dominance.