Former Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce believes Romelu Lukaku’s shortcomings provide cause for optimism for Manchester United supporters.
The Belgian begun the season poorly, missing big chances in games against Leicester City, Brighton and Tottenham Hotspur.
But he has made a superb resurgence, scoring a brace against Burnley, netting three times in the international break, and surpassing Didier Drogba’s Premier League total during the 2-1 win over Watford.
Speaking earlier this week, Pearce enthused that Lukaku would only improve playing at the highest level.
“He can be a little bit scruffy in possession,” he said.
“He’s probably not as clinical as he could be. If I was coaching a player like him, I would say that’s fantastic, because we’ve got something to work on, we’ve got improvement.
“If he improves on his finishing a touch, if he improves on his hold-up play, there’s times he picks the ball up where he just didn’t have a picture in his mind and it bobbles away from him on occasion.
“If he improved on those things he’d probably be top of the three in the Premier League. That for me is a real bonus in his favour.”
Lukaku’s goalscoring record aged 25 is already world class. Only Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane have more goals than him since the start of the 2012/13 season, when he was playing on loan at West Bromwich Albion. That he has only spent one season at United and can boast those numbers is a testament to his brilliance in itself.
He is certainly a world class goalscorer. But work still needs to be done before he becomes a world class striker. That requires vision, intelligence, patience, perfect timing, a sense for when to be in the box and when to stay back. In other words, it means being more than just a centre forward. You have to be a creator, too. That is what players like Diego Costa and Karim Benzema do. They have a wider purpose beyond goals.
And there is no doubt that Lukaku, yet to reach his prime, will assume that role at Old Trafford in the coming years.