Romelu Lukaku had a lot to celebrate when Inter Milan were crowned Serie A champions. The triumph ended a long league cup drought for both parties.
Inter hadn’t triumphed for 11 years and it was way back in 2009/10 that Lukaku lifted the Belgian Pro League Cup. His victory lap around Milan promptly went viral, but he also took the time to fire a few cheeky messages at some of his past critics.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was first in line and on the receiving end of a stinging tweet from Lukaku. It showed the two of them facing off on the pitch, accompanied by a caption claiming that Lukaku was now the new king.
It should be noted that the attack is far from unprovoked and likely a response to a similar tweet from Ibrahimovic when Milan defeated Inter 2-1.
The two players have been locked in a feud for some time, but Ibrahimovic wasn’t the only one to receive some gentle teasing from Lukaku.
He got together with three of his former Manchester United teammates, Alexis Sanchez, Ashley Young, and Matteo Darmian, for a dressing room photo. The image of the three was later tweeted by Young, along with a trophy and a devil horns emoticon – a clear jab at United.
All of these players enjoyed mixed fortunes at Old Trafford and were variously sidelined. Lukaku seemed to fall from favour during the Jose Mourinho era, even though he recently defended the manager in a lengthy interview.
He was underused and often appeared under-appreciated. Whether he simply wasn’t the right fit for Mourinho’s United is a fact that only the manager will ever know, but he certainly wasn’t at his best with United.
On the other hand, Lukaku has been an enduring success story at Inter Milan and one of Conte’s most astute signings.
The striker has had a prolific season with 21 goals and a further 10 assists, undoubtedly playing a pivotal role in Inter’s success. Conte has a long history of taking under-appreciated and sometimes adrift players and transforming them into match winners.
His glee at leading his side to a historic Serie A title is obvious. Even more telling is how he used the moment to face down some of his critics.
This is a player brimming with confidence and one who must feel that their long drought has come to an end. That can only bode well for this summer’s Euros and Inter’s title defence next season.
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While some of Conte’s signing can seem like he’s rolling the dice, they usually pay off. Manchester City exile Aleksander Kolarvov has come good, and Young has been prolific.
Even Christian Eriksen, although quieter than some of the other signings, has more than justified his place. Conte is a world-class man manager who knows how to develop his players. Lukaku is the latest in a long line to experience a Renaissance after a quiet spell.