Individual players play a vital role in the overall dynamic of their squads. Particularly when potent talents function in pivotal positions, a drastic change can be brought about in the identity of their team.
Of course, the impact can often be a negative one as well, and such a detrimental showing isn’t to be seen until the players in question are removed from the lineup entirely.
Romelu Lukaku has found himself in such an unfortunate spot. Having failed to find the net for 9 appearances, the player was benched against Everton, and missed the Bournemouth outing due to injury.
However, the Belgian striker wasn’t missed, as goal-scoring duty was fulfilled by in-form Anthony Martial, and it appears as if his overall contribution to the squad wasn’t vital either.
The former Red Devils’ defender states: “You look at Lukaku. Lukaku’s goalscoring record is up there, it’s fantastic, he scores goals. But in the best teams you need more than that.”
He goes on to criticize the striker by adding: “You need to be able to bring other people into play, you need to be able to compliment people in your team, things have to be set up off you.
“At the moment, in a Man Utd shirt, some things break down in Lukaku. And that affects other players in the team, like [Paul] Pogba and [Jesse] Lingard, who want to play off people.”
This is a fair assessment by Rio, and one that poses big questions to the future of Lukaku at Old Trafford. The rise of Martial and Rashford has shown that the roles of Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez may be more expendable, and that could lead to some intriguing selection dynamics.