Romelu Lukaku would prove to be a “gigantic” signing for Manchester City, according to former Citizens star Elano.
Sergio Aguero has been a fringe player for City this season, with the 32-year-old struggling with multiple injury issues as well as coronavirus-enforced lay-offs.
Aguero is out of contract at the end of 2020-21 and talks are yet to begin over a new deal, while Gabriel Jesus has also struggled to solidify his place in Pep Guardiola’s team in the Argentine striker’s absence.
With Aguero making just five league appearances – only two of them starts – and failing to score or assist, Jesus has netted four times and teed up two more goals from 14 games, 10 of them starts.
Phil Foden, Ferran Torres, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, who is currently out injured, have all been deployed in a central attacking role this season by Guardiola, who is reportedly set to target a forward in the upcoming transfer window.
Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland is a name that has been mooted, though all of Europe’s major clubs no doubt harbour an interest in the 20-year-old.
From 15 Bundesliga appearances this term, Haaland has scored 14 goals, second to only Eintracht Frankfurt’s Andre Silva (17) and Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski (19) in Germany’s top tier.
However, another name which has emerged in relation to City’s transfer targets is former Manchester United, Chelsea and Everton striker Lukaku, who has enjoyed another strong season with Inter following a stellar maiden campaign in Italy.
The 27-year-old is a player whose style may not be an obvious fit with Guardiola’s way of playing, yet Elano believes the Belgium international would be a supreme addition.
“When you play at a club at a high level, the competitiveness is huge. And if a guy like Lukaku is free, it’s not only City who want him, many others do too,” Elano, who became a cult hero during a two-year stint with City between 2007 and 2009, told Stats Perform News.
“The way that City play these days everybody wants to play for City don’t they? It’s an amazing way to play.
“Jesus has his place at City, but if a transfer like that really happens, it would be a gigantic reinforcement for the club and all three would have to fight for the opportunity. And City will have opportunities to compete in all competitions.”
61 & 40 – With Romelu #Lukaku on the field #Inter have won 61% of their games in all competitions since last season (47/77) – without the Belgian striker the Nerazzurri percentage of win is 40% (2/5). Challenge.#InterJuventus #CoppaItalia #InterJuve
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) February 2, 2021
City are 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League as it stands, having won a 10th straight top-flight match on Sunday, when they demolished defending champions Liverpool 4-1 at Anfield.
Asked if he believes City, who also have a game in hand over their title rivals, will go on to reclaim the league crown they won consecutively in 2017-18 and 2018-19, Elano said: “They went through a tough time, which is normal.
“When you rise so fast, they won two Premier Leagues, if I am not wrong, they also won the FA Cup so… after that, they went through a turbulent moment because they didn’t win, but now they are playing well again, which is normal when you have an amazing squad like that.
“The manager has a good base to work from and I believe City has all the potential to win the title again.
“I consider [Guardiola] the best alongside some others. Each coach has his own way to play. But the most beautiful way to play football I guess is the Guardiola way.”
WHAT WOULD LUKAKU BRING TO CITY?
Having spent the majority of his senior career in England, Lukaku would have no trouble adapting, and though his United connections may at first seem to represent a stumbling block, the Belgian never really settled during his time at Old Trafford.
Nevertheless, he still netted 28 league goals across 66 appearances for United, converting 42.22 per cent of 45 big chances he had, while also creating 54 goalscoring opportunities.
In his time at Inter, Lukaku has far surpassed that total in Serie A, scoring 37 times, while adding another four Coppa Italia goals and 13 in European competitions.
Last August, Lukaku became the first player to score in nine successive UEFA Cup or Europa League games when he netted in a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen. He went on to score a penalty and an own goal in Inter’s defeat to Sevilla in the final.
His partnership with Lautaro Martinez helped Inter to a second-placed finish last season and they are now battling it out with rivals Milan and Juventus for this term’s Scudetto.
Lukaku’s big chance conversion rate has been upped to 54.72 per cent in Serie A, while he averages a goal every 121 minutes, and with the quantity of opportunities City create – they top the Premier League for that metric this season with 259, with their big chance total of 65 matched only by United – he would surely hit the ground running.