Fresh off the back of firing Inter Milan to their first Serie A title since 2010, Romelu Lukaku will be looking to continue that form in Belgium’s Euro 2020 opener against Russia on Saturday evening.
Only Cristiano Ronaldo managed more than his 24 league goals in Italy last season, and the 28-year-old scored the only goal in Belgium’s final warm-up match against 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.
The former Manchester United striker ticks several boxes that justify his tag as favourite to win the Golden Boot this summer.
He scored in his last outing for his nation, ended his domestic league campaign with a goal in each of his last three games, and has international tournament pedigree with four goals at the World Cup in 2018.
Harry Kane, with six strikes in Russia, was the only player to outscore Lukaku three years ago, and the England frontman is second to the Belgian in the Betfred betting to top the scoring charts.
During his time in the Premier League, Lukaku developed something of a reputation as a flat-track bully, with the majority of his strikes coming against defences that he was expected to dominate.
He will be confident of setting the pace for in the Golden Boot race against Russia on Saturday evening, with Stanislav Cherchesov’s men regressing somewhat in the three years that have passed since they hosted the World Cup.
The Red Devils know they have the beating of Russia, having put seven past their Group B opponents in qualifying for this summer’s tournament.
Lukaku wrapped up the scoring in their 4-1 victory in St Petersburg back in November, and he will fancy his chances of starting his Euros with a bang at the Krestovsky Stadium on Saturday.
Continuing with the form against his group rivals, Lukaku bagged a late equaliser the last time Belgium and Finland faced off. It may have been five years ago, but the omens are certainly in place for him to hit the ground running in the group stages.
Both he and his national side have come a long way since then, with the best-ranked team in the world a far cry from the minnows of old.
As for Lukaku, his 113 Premier League goals are criminally undervalued, with his time at Old Trafford ending with a sour taste.
Since then, he has netted 44 goals in 63 league appearances at San Siro, with his strikes taking Inter to within a point of the title in the 2019-20 season, before firing Antonio Conte’s men to the title by 12 points this time out.
With 60 Belgium goals, the Anderlecht youth product is his country’s all-time top scorer, and by some distance. If Belgium’s ‘Golden Generation’ are to finally fulfil their potential and win a major tournament, they’ll be relying on the prowess of Lukaku to lead them there.
With 37 goals in his last 39 appearances under the guidance of Roberto Martinez, he is primed to do just that.