Romelu Lukaku has been hit hard by the long-term absence of Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba, believes Sky Sports pundit Danny Higginbotham.
The two 24-year-olds, Man United’s most expensive ever signing and second most expensive signing, had been combining fantastically at the start of the season.
Pogba looked a different player to last season, playing with belief and consistency, while Lukaku was firing goals in with ease thanks to Pogba’s service. The Belgian scored 11 times in his 10 games for United.
Yet since Pogba suffered a muscle injury while captaining United in the UEFA Champions League against FC Basel, the whole team’s form has dipped, though it took a few weeks to notice. Lukaku hasn’t scored in six games.
“It’s worth noting that Paul Pogba is a big miss,” Higginbotham said on Sky Sports’ The Debate.
”Pogba brought the best out of Lukaku, and Lukaku brought the best out of Pogba.
“Pogba started the season by scoring goals from outside the area, in space created by Lukaku stretching opposition defences.
“United have not got that player now that can go through the gears and start from deep – attributes which took the pressure off Lukaku.
“Contrast that to now and Lukaku has to go a little deeper at times, when you actually want him to be stretching the game.
“When Ibrahimovic is fit it will simply be another option for Manchester United and Mourinho, and what options Zlatan and Lukaku are.”
Higginbotham, who played seven times for United, is completely correct. Not only has Lukaku suffered, but the entire United team, in terms of style of play and results have been hit hard by Pogba’s absence since September 13.
Attacks are far less fluid and there’s more responsibility on the shoulders of everyone in the side, because no one in midfield, and certainly not Ander Herrera, can match Pogba’s creativity and no one can replicate his powerful dribbles through the lines that open up space.
Hopefully the Frenchman will return soon and will immediately click again with Lukaku to allow United to continue their chase of rivals Manchester City in the title race.