Opinion: Romelu Lukaku can light up the World Cup
As we enter the month of June, the minds of football fans everywhere switch to the FIFA World Cup and a quadrennial tournament that is an explosion of colour, excitement and prestige.
Everybody has an opinion and it is often different to the next supporter, particularly when the office sweepstake has thrown you a curveball that requires a hard sell (come on Panama, you can do it!).
But without bias, almost everybody will agree that Belgium have an excellent chance of achieving success in Russia, with a squad that is littered with world-class talents across the pitch. They've always had potential, but now they have a potent blend of youth and experience.
The embodiment of those attributes is Romelu Lukaku, who, after scoring 27 goals in his debut season at United, is primed to light up football’s biggest stage.
At the 2014 World Cup, at 21, he made four appearances and scored one goal in the Round of 16 win over USA, before Divock Origi started ahead of him in the 1-0 quarter-final defeat to Argentina.
Undeterred, Romelu pressed on with his career and racked up the goals with Everton, meaning he was the obvious choice to start all five matches throughout Belgium’s Euro 2016 campaign in France.
That tournament ended in another disappointing defeat, this time to Wales in the last eight, but Lukaku and the squad is crucially now older, wiser and much-improved. This could be their year.
Romelu is also among the favourites to win the Golden Boot award - which is given to the tournament’s top scorer - alongside Lionel Messi, Neymar, Antoine Griezmann, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gabriel Jesus, Harry Kane and Timo Werner. Our man will surely be aware, but it’s unlikely he will be affected by any pressure that is attached.
As we saw throughout the 2017/18 season, Lukaku is mentally strong and his endeavours only highlighted a steely personality that proved he is perfectly suited to the goldfish bowl that is Manchester United.
Romelu repeatedly answered questions dangled over him.
Could he handle the big stage? Yes. Could he handle the scrutiny? Yes. Could he handle a drought? Yes. Could he influence big games? Yes.
Now, on the eve of the biggest tournament in world football, another question has been put forward. Can Romelu Lukaku shine at the World Cup?
The answer, in my opinion, is yes.
MUTV subscribers in the UK and IRE can watch live coverage of Belgium v Portugal on Saturday from 19:30 BST.