Say what you will about Jose Mourinho, but he retains an impressive ability to figure out what makes certain players tick. Two summers ago, after Romelu Lukaku had fired Inter to a first Serie A title in more than a decade with 24 goals in 36 appearances, Mourinho insisted that he was not in the least bit to see the Belgian thrive at San Siro.
These two years at Inter have given him the stature and the self-confidence that he didn’t have before,” the Portuguese told The Times. “At Chelsea, he was still a kid. At Manchester United, he was still developing. At Inter, he became the top man. He became loved – a big love from the supporters, love from team-mates, great relations with the coach.
“He’s a big guy, physically so strong, but there is also a kid inside who needs that love, needs that support, needs to feel important.”
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And yet Lukaku has already been given a rapturous welcome in Rome – why? Because they need him.
Firstly, there’s the fact that Tammy Abraham is out for six months with a knee injury, meaning Roma are short on options up front. Jose Mourinho was so desperate for a striker to be signed that he sent a cheeky message to his bosses in pre-season by pretending to embrace a new No.9 in the club’s team photo.