Romelu Lukaku admitted earlier this month that his role for Belgium isn’t to score goals.
The Everton forward said he is a “pivot” when he plays for the Red Devils - the player who holds the ball up and brings the creative stars into the game.
The 22-year-old has since changed his stance by hinting he would be more effective for the national team if Marc Wilmots used him in the same way Roberto Martinez does at Everton. Instead, Eden Hazard and Kevin de Bruyne are the building blocks.
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Lukaku will likely spearhead Belgium’s attack at this summer’s European Championship and the Red Devils have a great opportunity of winning their first major tournament if Wilmots can get the best out of the powerful forward.
He has scored 25 goals this campaign and is one of the best young players in Europe. There’s a reason he has been linked with Manchester United and Chelsea in the past few days.
Belgium are yet to see it, though. But Lukaku knows why.
“We already have two players who make the game: Kevin and Eden,” Lukaku told Belgium newspaper DH.
“You should ask the coach what ideas we, the players, have to adapt. At Everton, everyone suits me. Here, less.”
Lukaku has spoken with Wilmots
When asked if he had spoken with Wilmots about his concerns, Lukaku replied: “Yes. From player to coach. It took me a long time to talk about it.
“You must be in a position where you can express yourself. If someone is in front of you, you stay in line and you do not complain.
“I did not want to come back frustrated every time, or angry after a match with the national team. Sometimes I was just thinking ‘f**k’, but I stayed calm and I talked quietly.”
Lukaku was even asked if he was happy to return to Belgium.
“To see my mom, yes,” he replied. “I see what you mean. I explained this by the fact that the English see me more often at work. They see me give everything to work on my weaknesses.”
Competition with Benteke
On Merseyside, Martinez is happy for Everton’s players to give Lukaku the ball and let the 6ft 3ins striker do the rest.
But his role with Belgium is different. Instead, Wilmots asks the forward to use his sizeable frame to fend off defenders and allow De Bruyne, Hazard, Dries Mertens and Yannick Carrasco to shine.
Christian Benteke plays the role better and Lukaku could be forced to adapt if he is to be Belgium’s first-choice striker at this summer’s tournament in France.
But Benteke’s withdrawal from the squad for tonight’s friendly against Portugal gives Lukaku a chance to show Wilmots he can suit the manager’s system.
“I showed what I could do,” Lukaku continued. “Whether from the side or pivot, I’ll find a way to score. But in the end, it’s the coach who decides and we adapt.”