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Ronaldo, Lukaku bring Golden Boot race to the Premier League

Posted: Sep 20, 2021

The 2020/21 season will be remembered for Inter Milan's record-breaking Serie A win. Antonio Conte's merry band of footballers, filled with former Manchester United players, broke Juventus' near-decade long stranglehold on the league. Romelu Lukaku finished the season with 24 goals and 11 assists, and was named as the league's MVP. He did, however, lose out on the Golden Boot to the one and only Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese superstar scored 29 times, even as Juventus struggled.

The Serie A's two best goalscorers are now in the Premier League, however. They enter a Golden Boot race that has involved multiple protagonists in the last few years. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane shared it in 2018/19, while Jamie Vardy pipped Aubameyang and Danny Ings were on top in 2019/20. Last season, it was Harry Kane who won it for the first time since 2017, beating Salah to the honour. All of them will be involved again, no doubt. Gear up for a thrilling Golden Boot race!

Fantastic debuts 

LukakuRomelu Lukaku arrived first, to much fanfare. Ten years ago, the Belgian joined as a 17-year old, but never really got much of a chance. He made 10 Premier League appearances, failing to score a goal. He did not make a single appearance as Chelsea won their maiden Champions League title in 2012. Lukaku smashed in goals at West Brom and Everton on loan before joining the Toffees permanently. Manchester United was a bit of a nightmare, although he still scored a bagful, before Inter Milan came calling. Chelsea really was the only club Lukaku would leave Inter for after winning the Serie A. He did make the move, and what a re-introduction to the Premier League it was!

Lukaku harried the Arsenal defenders, toying with Pablo Mari in particular. It took him 15 minutes to open the scoring and fulfill a dream 10 years in the making. Then, on deadline day, Cristiano Ronaldo had his own homecoming. The forward returned to Manchester United, where he made his name as a fearsome forward. A Golden Boot and Champions League winner while at the club, he left for a then-world record fee to Real Madrid. And everyone knows about his trophy-laden days in Madrid. The Juventus stint was short, and he's back now.

In style too! What a debut it was! He scored twice against Newcastle United, making his fans go delirious with joy. Of course, a couple of hours later, Lukaku scored two himself. Both of them then went ahead and scored in the Champions League. Talk about a tight race!

Different roles for Ronaldo and Lukaku

Ronaldo Manchester UnitedBoth Ronaldo and Lukaku have different roles in their respective teams. For Chelsea, Lukaku is like the missing piece. He provides a strong focal point off which Chelsea's rich array of attackers can thrive. Last season, Chelsea created plenty of chances under Tuchel, but they did not have a lethal finisher and the opportunities went to waste. Lukaku solves that, and he's a ruthless finisher. He scored two goals from just two shots on target against Aston Villa. He is certainly vital for his side now.

Manchester United, on the other hand, didn't really need Ronaldo. They have the fantastic Bruno Fernandes in the squad, with Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, and new man Jadon Sancho, not to forget Paul Pogba pulling the strings from midfield. Who really looked at this team and thought signing another forward was what they really needed? No one.

Manchester United signed Ronaldo just because they could. It's a big business opportunity, and no doubt, masks some of the frailties. They really needed a defensive midfielder, but that did not arrive. Meanwhile, Glazers' mismanagement and the neglect of Old Trafford are on the back burner for fans for now. Of course, he scores goals. But he's also an aging forward who doesn't add anything to the defensive side.

Race to the end 

RonaldoWhatever the roles may be, and however they may fit into the side, there is no doubting the quality of these two players. For more than a decade, Ronaldo has been among the top two players in the world. He, along with Messi, ruled world football for ages, and still do. He may be 36, but that does not matter.

Nearly thirty goals last season in Italy, and three already in two Premier League games. No doubt at all, he'll finish amongst the top goalscorers of the season. He may not have the kind of assist figures that someone like Kane, Salah or maybe Lukaku would get, but does that really matter? Give him the ball, and he'll score. That's all that matters in the simple game of football.

Ronaldo, at least, may instill some of his winning mentality into the squad. Since Ole took over, United have lost four semi-finals and a final. So close, yet so far. Trophyless since 2017, one of English football's most successful clubs is looking to rejoin the gaggle at the top. Who better, then, than Cristiano Ronaldo to provide the push? This is a man with five Champions League trophies, league titles and golden boots in Italy, Spain and England, and a winner of Euro 2016 with Portugal. Even at 36, he has the motivation to give his all and score more goals every week. No one knows winning better than him. Questionable characters aside, on a pure footballing plane, he is incomparable.

Lukaku, on the other hand, is vastly underrated too. The Belgian is now the most expensive player in the world. No other player has commanded so much transfer fees, with Chelsea twice, Everton, Manchester United and Inter Milan combining to spend £285 million on him! He's gotten past a difficult spell at United. And now he is one of the world's best centre-forwards.

Ronaldo and Lukaku the hunt for titles

Cristiano Ronaldo may have won last season's golden boot, but Lukaku got his hands on the title. He'll want to do it again; so will Ronaldo. They're not just competing for goals, they're competing for everything. It's not a rivalry people would have expected some years ago. Fate brought them both to the same league in 2019, and again in 2021. The Premier League, the Champions League, the domestic cups - it's all fair game. Chelsea and Manchester United look fabulous this season, and come May 2022, they'll both have a trophy or two, surely. Maybe then, we'll judge Ronaldo and Lukaku.