Serie A - Football: Romelu Lukaku 5/1 to score 25 on Inter return
Romelu Lukaku is 5/1 to score 25 or more Serie A goals for Inter Milan this season after his loan-deal from Chelsea was confirmed on Wednesday.
Lukaku returned to Stamford Bridge to a huge fanfare, and three Premier League goals in his first three games saw his odds tumble for the Golden Boot.
The expected goal-glut failed to materialise and he now returns to familiar surroundings again in the shape of Inter and he’s just 5/1 to find his scoring boots and better the 24-goal haul he managed in their title-winning campaign of 2020/21, where he went one better than the previous season, when he scored 23.
Those thinking that his Premier League hangover will continue may be interested in the 3/1 about him bagging 15 or fewer on his return to Italy.
The transfer was a huge disappointment, though defenders of the Belgian will be quick to point out that he wasn’t utilised to his full potential under Thomas Tuchel.
Lukaku had great success in Milan by playing alongside Lautaro Martinez as part of a two-man strike-force, allowed to drop deeper and drift wide to the right to be more involved in the game and use his pace and strength to greater effect, while Tuchel was more keen to use Lukaku as a central focal point for the team.
Despite his ability in building up play, Lukaku often cut an isolated figure at Stamford Bridge – recording 28.5 touches per 90 last season, six fewer than he was averaging at Manchester United, and eight fewer than he averaged with Inter.
But Tuchel was keen to replace the classic back-to-goal striker they lost in Olivier Giroud; a player who could bring Chelsea’s numerous creative players – Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz etc. – into the game, and it’s not where Lukaku thrives.
Reports have emerged that Tuchel and Lukaku weren’t on the best of terms for much of last season, particularly after Lukaku’s incendiary interview where he expressed his displeasure at his situation at the club, resulting in the rather awkward public apology video.
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Although Conte, who took Inter to the Serie A title, is no longer there, his successor Simone Inzaghi still uses two men up front, and Lukaku will hope to pick up where he left off.
And make no mistake, Lukaku is still a world-class goalscorer, but was a square peg in a round hole at Stamford Bridge.
He was still finding the same shooting positions last season as he did the previous two, though his shooting numbers did dip, mirrored in the considerably lower goal tally, as did his shot-on-target percentage, from solid mid-40s with Inter, to a modest 31% with Chelsea.
But the underlying numbers were largely still there, scoring 0.17 goals per shot and 0.54 goals per shot on target, and out-performing his xG (albeit marginally) for the fifth straight season.
Lukaku says he’s looking to regain confidence in Italy, the lack of which was often evident when on the pitch with Chelsea, and certainly not aided by him struggling to regain his place just two months into his return to West London after a four-week layoff through injury.
But if he does regain his confidence, and Inzaghi uses him to his strengths, he may well reach 25 goals for the second time in his career.
15 or Fewer - 3/1
16 to 20 - 6/4
21 to 24 - 5/2
25 or more - 5/1
By Steve Freeth