With Zlatan Ibrahimovic leaving Manchester United, the Red Devils have been forced to look for alternatives this summer. Their latest efforts have seen a £75 million fee agreed with Everton for their star striker Romelu Lukaku, who is now set to have a medical at Old Trafford, according to BBC Sport.
United are reportedly keen to conclude a deal for the Belgian international before they depart for a pre-season tour to the United States on Sunday, which would see him become an instant replacement for the outgoing Ibrahimovic.
After a stellar campaign for the Reds, the Swede’s performances will be hard to match, but will the £75 million-rated Lukaku be able to replace the veteran superstar?
In terms of his goal-scoring abilities, the Everton man is more than capable of fulfilling the void left by Ibrahimovic. United found it tough in front of goal last season, with Ibrahimovic their only player to reach double figures in the Premier League.
Lukaku, on the other hand, found the back of the net 25 times – eight more than Ibrahimovic. The Belgian’s efforts would have won him the golden boot if it wasn’t for Harry Kane’s excellent end of season goalscoring form for Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham.
Yet, if there is one aspect of the Everton man needs to improve on, it is his performances in big games. Lukaku only scored four times against teams that finished above Everton, despite playing in 11 out of 12 of these fixtures. In comparison to Ibrahimovic, the Belgian’s statistics in this department reflect poorly.[interaction id=”595e2fd7f2d4938713c3959a”]
Ibrahimovic found the back of the net four times against the top five and Everton, the same number as Lukaku, but the Swedish man played four fewer games and only 12 minutes in the home fixture against Chelsea.
The main worry for Lukaku isn’t just the lack of goals he scored against top teams, it is his overall performances too. The 24-year-old played admirably against smaller sides, but, for example, in the Merseyside derby against Liverpool, he was unable to help his side in anyway.
Comparing the two strikers in question, when it comes to the crunch matches, Ibrahimovic looks far more composed and his experience pays dividends. His goals were crucial in avoiding defeat against Everton, both home and away, and Liverpool. All three of these fixtures ended 1-1, with the Swede’s goal aiding the Red Devils.
In terms of chance creation, the two individuals were almost identical. Both set up 46 opportunities over the course of the season, yet Lukaku gained one more assist than his fellow striker, laying on six goals for his teammates.
Everton’s man was also more instrumental in taking his side forward. The Belgian beat his opposing defender on 64 occasions, which is a far superior to Ibrahimovic, who only attempted 33 take-ons, completing 17.
Yet, the Swedish man isn’t renowned for his ability to beat a man. The 35-year-old is more renowned for his impressive hold-up play, an aspect of his game that is better than Lukaku’s.
Ibrahimovic linked up with his teammates on 646 occasions last season, finishing the campaign with a 74% pass accuracy, which belittles Lukaku’s displays. The 24-year-old only made 529 successful passes, proving accurate just 66% of the time.
It is clear, therefore, that in certain areas, Lukaku would bring an improvement to United. Finishing off smaller teams, while also being able to attack with greater pace and power would come as a result of Lukaku’s signing, but the Red Devils may lose some of their fluidity and accuracy during their approach play.
Despite this, Romelu Lukaku would be signed for one reason alone: to put the ball into the back of the net. From looking at his return last season, he is more than capable of doing just that.
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