Romelu Lukaku uses Arsenal mentors and Manchester United exit to prove critics wrong

Romelu Lukaku has never played for them, yet Arsenal have been a huge influence on the striker who left Manchester United and the Premier League at the start of last season and never looked back. He still speaks to Thierry Henry almost every week after working with him in the Belgium team up to the last World Cup. Arsenal’s record goalscorer is now in MLS with Montreal Impact, but regularly talks to his protégé on the phone. As well as Arsenal’s leading goalscorer, Lukaku also has a more unlikely relationship with Ian Wright, who is second on the club’s list of most prolific strikers. It is not widely known where they first met. Perhaps Wright’s work as a TV pundit unearthed a player he felt was not appreciated by the clubs, whose goalscoring statistics were at odds with the way he was treated initially at Chelsea and then at Old Trafford. At the start of last season Lukaku had the option to leave United and it is understood that Wright was one of the people he leant on for advice. Lukaku calls him “Uncle”, or “Unc” for short. Wright interviewed Lukaku on his own YouTube channel during lockdown – no big commercial tie-up – and the chemistry between the two is genuine. “How do you feel? Do you feel OK?” asks Wright. Lukaku tells him everything about life away from his family, from his fears as his mother has diabetes to training on his own. It is never an easy decision for any player to leave Manchester United.


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