Nemanja Matic has hailed the importance of fellow summer signing Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United.
The Belgian forward hit his 20th and 21st goals of the season for the club in a 2-0 win against Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup, in which Man Unite will now face Brighton & Hove Albion at home after their Fifth Round victory.
Criticised frequently throughout the season, Lukaku has been one of United’s most significant contributors. His goalscoring additions to the side, with 21 goals in 38 games so far, have been vital, but in recent weeks, his non-goalscoring contribution has grown in impact and been hailed by manager Jose Mourinho.
“He is important for us,” Matic said. “It’s very important for his confidence that he is scoring goals and he is a great striker, very strong and he is still young.”
Lukaku started the season with 11 goals in his first 10 games for United, striking home with fantastic regularity. He suffered a confidence drop in October and November, with midfielder Paul Pogba out of the side with injury.
Now, he’s back in the goals and proving his worth to Mourinho after a £75m move from Everton in the summer. Not only that, but he’s repaying Mourinho’s faith after the Portuguese kept him in the side during a mid-season goal drought.
“I am sure he will be important for us until the end of the season,” Matic added.
Lukaku’s season will be significantly judged upon on his next few games, all huge ones for United. The Reds travel to Sevilla on Wednesday in the Champions League, and face Chelsea and Liverpool, as well as hosting Sevilla in the second leg of the round of 16, in their next five games.
The 24-year-old’s big game record has been criticised. Over the next couple of weeks, he’ll either prove his critics right or silence them.