Roma manager Jose Mourinho has defended striker Romelu Lukaku saying he needs to ‘feel loved and wanted’.
After a high-profile return to Chelsea in 2021 for a staggering £97.5 million, Lukaku found himself on the outskirts of the squad under new manager Mauricio Pochettino.
It was a situation that neither the player nor the club had anticipated. Enter Jose Mourinho, a familiar face for Lukaku, having previously worked together at Chelsea and Manchester United.
“Romelu needs to feel loved and wanted,” Mourinho asserted, emphasizing the emotional component that often underpins a player’s performance.
It’s a sentiment that rings true for many athletes – when they sense the appreciation and support of their team and manager, they are more likely to perform at their best.
Mourinho continued, “When he came here, he could sense the team needed a player like him. He likes to win – that’s in his nature. I think he’s really happy.”
It’s evident that Lukaku’s decision to join Roma was driven not just by the desire to play but also by the need to be in an environment where he felt he truly belonged.
Lukaku’s recent history includes a successful stint at Inter Milan, where he played a crucial role in their journey to the UEFA Champions League final. However, a permanent transfer to Inter wasn’t in the cards, leading him back to Chelsea briefly before landing in the Eternal City.
Mourinho’s insight into Lukaku’s mindset also highlighted the importance of team success over personal glory.
“That wasn’t a big deal for me. Maybe it was for him – you know what footballers are like, especially forwards, they live to score,”
Mourinho remarked when discussing Lukaku’s first goal for Roma.
He stressed that Lukaku is an intelligent player who prioritizes the team’s success over individual accolades.
In addressing any potential resentment from Inter Milan fans or players following Lukaku’s departure,
Mourinho diplomatically stated, “They won the derby 5-1 and have an amazing team with lots of forwards.
They should be happy for their former coach, who needed Lukaku.”