Lukaku underappreciated in England – Martinez

Belgium manager Roberto Martinez has come to Romelu Lukaku's defence following his departure from Manchester United.

Romelu Lukaku scored on his Inter Milan debut.   -  Getty Images

Romelu Lukaku's goal-scoring record should have earned him more respect in England, according to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez.

Manchester United sold 26-year-old Lukaku to Serie A side Inter in August for a reported €80million.

The striker hit 27 competitive goals in his first season at Old Trafford but that figure fell to 15 last term as critics questioned aspects of his game and conditioning.

Martinez managed the former PFA Team of the Year member at Everton, where he spent four prolific years, and believes his overall impact in the Premier League went undervalued.

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Only 18 players have ever scored more goals in the competition than Lukaku's 113 from 252 appearances.

"Romelu hasn't been appreciated for most of the time he's been in the British game," Martinez told the Daily Mail.

"And the reason is very clear. Everyone analyses what he hasn't got as a number nine. Everyone wants to tell him the first touch should be better, that he should be stronger in the air, that he needs to make more room.

"But what they miss is his outstanding trade as a goal-scorer. Look at his stats. He is one of the most significant scorers at his age.

"Like any player, if you are going to highlight the things they don't do well, you wouldn't get the feeling of a good player.

"But in Romelu's case, he's always been a top goal-scorer."

Lukaku's move made him the third high-profile member of Belgium's starting XI to leave the Premier League during the close season, after Eden Hazard and Vincent Kompany.

Kevin De Bruyne remains at Manchester City and has enjoyed an exceptional and injury-free start to the new season.

Asked whether there is a better midfielder in world football, Martinez replied: "No, no, no, definitely not.

"Kevin De Bruyne is a modern playmaker. Xabi Alonso at Liverpool or Xavi Hernandez at Barcelona – when they received the ball, everything had to slow down and this allowed them to execute the pass.

"De Bruyne, he executes passes before the flow of the game has seen it, before people have seen it."

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