Manchester United forward Romelu Lukaku confident he is finally returning to peak form

Romelu Lukaku believes he is finally returning to his peak form with Manchester United after a summer in which he bulked up to prepare for the rigours of Belgium’s World Cup campaign.

After ending a run of two-and-a-half months without a goal at Southampton last weekend, Lukaku was again on the mark as Jose Mourinho’s side recorded their biggest league victory in 13 months against a woeful Fulham.

But the Belgian international’s confession that he had to lose weight – or “muscle” – after returning from the gruelling summer tournament in Russia was something of an eye-opener.

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The 6’3” target man has long been among the Premier League’s more physically imposing players although his productivity has dropped off alarmingly this season while, if anything, his size appears to have gone in the opposite direction.

Lukaku was honest enough after the Fulham victory to concede that he had consciously bulked up prior to Russia and that he has battled since to return to his fighting weight.


Premier League gameweek 16 goals





1/24 Bournemouth 0-1 Liverpool

2/24 Bournemouth 0-2 LIverpool

3/24 Bournemouth 0-3 Liverpool

4/24 Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool

5/24 West Ham 0-1 Crystal Palace

6/24 West Ham 1-1 Crystal Palace

7/24 West Ham 2-1 Crystal Palace

8/24 West Ham 3-1 Crystal Palace

9/24 West Ham 3-2 Crystal Palace

10/24 Manchester United 1-0 Fulham

11/24 Manchester United 2-0 Fulham

12/24 Manchester United 3-0 Fulham

13/24 Manchester United 3-1

14/24 Manchester United 4-1 Fulham

15/24 Arsenal 1-0 Huddersfield

16/24 Cardiff 1-0 Southampton

17/24 Burnley 1-0 Brighton

18/24 Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City

19/24 Chelsea 2-0 Manchester City

20/24 Leicester 0-1 Tottenham

21/24 Leicester 0-2 Tottenham

22/24 Newcastle 0-1 Wolves

23/24 Newcastle 1-1 Wolves

24/24 Newcastle 1-1 Wolves

1/24 Bournemouth 0-1 Liverpool

2/24 Bournemouth 0-2 LIverpool

3/24 Bournemouth 0-3 Liverpool

4/24 Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool

5/24 West Ham 0-1 Crystal Palace

6/24 West Ham 1-1 Crystal Palace

7/24 West Ham 2-1 Crystal Palace

8/24 West Ham 3-1 Crystal Palace

9/24 West Ham 3-2 Crystal Palace

10/24 Manchester United 1-0 Fulham

11/24 Manchester United 2-0 Fulham

12/24 Manchester United 3-0 Fulham

13/24 Manchester United 3-1

14/24 Manchester United 4-1 Fulham

15/24 Arsenal 1-0 Huddersfield

16/24 Cardiff 1-0 Southampton

17/24 Burnley 1-0 Brighton

18/24 Chelsea 1-0 Manchester City

19/24 Chelsea 2-0 Manchester City

20/24 Leicester 0-1 Tottenham

21/24 Leicester 0-2 Tottenham

22/24 Newcastle 0-1 Wolves

23/24 Newcastle 1-1 Wolves

24/24 Newcastle 1-1 Wolves

“A little bit of muscle, yeah,” laughed Lukaku when asked if he had consciously added weight to his frame this summer.

“It was at the World Cup. I just felt great and I think I played great over there, and then when I came back it is a different type of style.

“When you in the Premier League, I cannot play with the same amount of muscle as international football here in the Prem. That was something that when I came back I knew straightaway ‘Nah, nah, I cannot play in this style like this’.

“I had to lose muscle basically. So you just stay out of the gym, drink a lot of water, and a lot of veg and fish and it helps.”

There does not appear much visible evidence of Lukaku shedding too much weight yet, perhaps, but the 25-year-old also admitted that the personal cost of his country’s run to the World Cup semis was not just a physical one.

Having come so close to World Cup glory, Lukaku has taken time to recover from the mental fatigue of carrying the weight of his nation’s hopes on his broad shoulders.

“It was intense. It was really intense because you get so close to absolute glory,” said Lukaku.

“After the World Cup, I think I really was like a bit tired. But, you know, I had the same thing in 2014 after the World Cup when I came back to Everton I was really in a slump after the World Cup.

“So, now I think I am in a decent level again and ready to go again.

“Me and the medical staff, we did like a lot of tests to see what was the problem and stuff. Also I had a hamstring injury, which is something that never happens to me.

“(I am) Just training differently – more prevention in the gym and try to do more speed bursts in training and that’s, for me, the most essential.”

Lukaku played a key role in United’s dominant start to the game, scoring along with Ashley Young and Juan Mata in a dominant first half showing.

After substitute Aboubakar Kamara pulled a second half goal back from the penalty spot, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa’s dismissal, for a second yellow card, immediately killed off any hope of a Fulham fightback.

Marcus Rashford completed the rout although United – Lukaku included – missed numerous chances to score five goals in a league game for the first time in five-and-a-half years although the fact that his star striker appears heading back to his old self was, surely, an added bonus for Mourinho.

“Not enough intensity. I played with not enough aggression, I think,” said Lukaku of his recent troubles.

“Today I think I played with intensity like everybody else did. For me, I was happy to play at a decent level again and now it’s all about improving and continuing on a consistent basis.

“Me and the manager had good conversations in the last couple of days, where really he told me what he wanted from me.

“And I know from my side I have to do better, and I just keep looking forward and improving, trying to add into my game and help the team to win.”

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