Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku believes he deserves “a bit more respect” for his goal-laden track record.
Many had expected the 24-year-old to rejoin Chelsea in the summer, only for Jose Mourinho’s men to swoop in and sign the Everton man for an initial £75million.
Lukaku has produced a solid early return by plundering 22 goals in all competitions at United, with the latest coming against Chelsea on Sunday.
The 24-year-old would go on to set up Jesse Lingard’s winner and be named man of the match for his display in the 2-1 win – the kind of big occasion when his impact has been long been doubted.
“That’s the situation around me,” Lukaku said, having scored his first league goal for United against a side currently in the top eight.
“I just need to keep working hard. I think I have got a nice record.
“I’ve scored a lot this season and I just want to keep going.
“I know that I can improve, and I want to improve and really work hard. I want to win trophies.
“We are still in the fight in two competitions. It’s not going to be easy but it’s a nice challenge.”
Asked by Press Association Sport if people forget how young he is, Lukaku said: “Yeah, because I’ve been in the game for so long.
“I started playing when I was 16. Year in, year out people expect 20 goals from me.
“I’ve been doing it for 10 years straight, so I think I’ve proved myself.
“You expect a bit more respect but it’s the situation we’re in. I don’t listen to it. I just want to improve and show the people what I can do on the pitch.”
Lukaku is two goals away from becoming just the 28th player to score 100 Premier League goals, yet he knows it will take more than that to win over some.
And with United still fighting on three fronts – albeit more in hope than expectation in the league – the striker is targeting collective glory rather than individual success.
Asked what it would take to get the respect he feels he is due, he said: “If I win – I want to win.
“As long as I win, and I lead my team to winning that’s when I will be really satisfied.
“As a football player, I don’t play for the individual. I think a lot of big players that we recognise today in the game are players who have won something, and I want to be part of them.
“The road is still far ahead, but I’m ambitious and I’ll work every day for my team to win – I’m not thinking about myself.”
Lukaku relishes the pressure that comes with “playing for the biggest club in the world” and does not regret spurning the chance to return to Chelsea in the summer.
“No, no, no,” he said. “When I make a choice it’s with my head and my heart. I made the right choice for me.
“As you can see, I’m in a good situation. I’m with a manager and players who push me every day. The challenge is there to win and it’s something that I wanted.”
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