Romelu Lukaku believes the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Old Trafford will help Manchester United “chase” Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Lukaku has been an ever-present in United’s starting line-up in the league but the looming return of Ibrahimovic – who was an automatic selection by Jose Mourinho last season – means he will face competition to lead the line.
The Swede has not featured for United since April when he sustained a serious knee injury against Anderlecht in the Europa League quarter-finals.
His contract at Old Trafford ran out at the end of last season, but he was re-signed by Jose Mourinho in August and has opted to take the No 10 shirt, formerly worn by Wayne Rooney.
Lukaku insists he is relishing the prospect of lining up alongside Ibrahimovic and is confident the pair can help United reel in Pep Guardiola’s rampant City side, who are averaging 3.45 goals per game.
“It motivates me really, because he’s another good player to add to the squad,” Lukaku said. “When you face a team like us it’s difficult for opponents.
“Him (Ibrahimovic) coming back will help us chase Manchester City.”
Lukaku’s double for Belgium means his season has started with an impressive 16 goals in 20 appearances for club and country, yet some doubts remain over his ability to perform on the biggest of stages.
But criticism is nothing new to Lukaku and he believes he will have plenty of opportunities to silence his doubters over the coming months.
“I think when I signed everybody was asking questions and I think starting so well surprised a few people,” Lukaku said.
“We are still in the early stages of the season and nothing is over yet. We can do much better than we are doing now.”