Romelu Lukaku was jokingly mocked by his Inter Milan teammate Nicolo Barella over the weekend as his side secured a 3-0 victory over Sampdoria. The striker has been ridiculed for his first touch previously, and that aspect of his game continues to haunt him, it appears.
Inter moved up into fifth on Saturday evening after comfortably putting relegation-battling Sampdoria to the sword in a convincing display by Simone Inzaghi’s side. Stefan de Vrij opened the scoring before Barella and Joaquin Correa put the game to bed.
Barella has been in electric form so far this season, scoring five and assisting four in 12 appearances. The Italy international is thriving in the centre of the park, potentially being boosted by being reunited with Lukaku at the San Siro.
The playmaker opened up on how he joked with the Belgium international after his goal, saying: “I hit him after the goal, I told him that the ball was struck like that. I told him see, that’s how you do a first touch! I was joking, we always play around and make fun of each other, it’s a great group of lads and we have a lot of fun.”
Inzaghi’s side have impressed in the Champions League so far this season, though their domestic performances have left a lot to be desired. Though an injury to loanee Lukaku may have hindered their plans, with the Chelsea striker only making four appearances so far this season and only recently returning to fitness.
The 29-year-old was loaned back to Inter over the summer following his disappointing return to Chelsea in the year prior, where many questioned how he earned himself a £97.5million price tag. Former Blues boss Thomas Tuchel ruled Lukaku surplus to requirements at the end of the campaign and thus greenlighted his return to Italy on loan, in hope that a stint back in the Serie A will help him recapture his form.
It is still early days for Lukaku back at Inter, though he may have one eye on the Premier League and how his parent club are currently faring. Chelsea were beaten 4-1 by Brighton on Saturday to conclude their unbeaten run under now-manager Graham Potter.
The Stamford Bridge outfit have performed well under the former Swansea boss but lacked a presence in the final third. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was signed in the summer to replace Lukaku, though his one goal in the Premier League suggests that there is still a shortage of a clinical finisher at the club – though whether Potter feels that Lukaku could be exactly that remains to be seen in 2023.