Scouting report - former striker Nico Claesen on Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku
26 October 2017|Tottenham Hotspur
Former Belgian international striker Nico Claesen – with us at Spurs between 1986 and 1988 – has followed the progress of his fellow countryman and modern-day target man Romelu Lukaku right from his early years in Anderlecht’s academy until the present day, where he’s plundered 11 goals in 14 appearances for Saturday’s hosts Manchester United since his summer transfer from Everton. Here is Nico’s scouting report on the 24-year-old ahead of this weekend’s trip to Old Trafford…
- Former striker
- 63 appearances, 23 goals for Spurs, 1986-1988
- Also represented Standard Liege and Royal Antwerp among other clubs
- 43 caps, 16 goals for Belgium, 1983-1990
- Played for Belgium at Euro ’84 and the 1986 and 1990 FIFA World Cups
- Joined Manchester United from Everton this summer
- Came up through the ranks at Anderlecht, scoring 41 goals in 98 senior games before 2011 transfer to Chelsea
- Only played 15 times for Chelsea but had successful loan spells at West Brom and Everton
- Joined Everton permanently in 2014 and finished his Goodison Park career with 87 goals in 166 appearances
- Currently on 28 goals in 63 games for Belgium
“I’ve known him from (when he was) a young boy. In the youth teams at Anderlecht, he always played one level higher, so when he was in the Under-14s he played with the Under-15s and still he was always the biggest one on the pitch. He always had that body, that build, even when he was young. In the beginning, everyone was saying that he was scoring much quicker than the other boys but when he gets in the first team it will change, but for him it never changed because he came in at Anderlecht and he did the same that he did in the Under-14s and Under-15s. Physically he is really top and he has always made progress. Even now he is making progress at Manchester United because he is very dangerous in the first minute or the last minute.
“I’ve been very impressed because of the way he is managed now. When you see him now, especially this season at United, he can be the front man but he can also play as an attacking player when the defending around him is very congested. Most of the teams that play against United play with six or seven players around him – four defenders and then two or three men before him in midfield because they know that when the ball is played to him, he will always take a good position to get the ball and do something in the second action. He has learned a lot about that. We always said that you need Lukaku when the team that plays against him operates a little bit higher so that he can go behind the defence but now we can see also that he can turn quickly and bring other players into the game as well. That was the thing he had to learn but at the moment he is doing very well.
“For me, he is very important when he can be in the box because when the defender makes even a slight mistake, they know he will turn them left or right and get a sight of goal. If he can stay in the box and you can get the ball to him, he is most dangerous. Sometimes he is standing still but still he makes something happen.”