Back in blue and back in the Premier League, Romelu Lukaku finally scored his first goal for Chelsea – nine years and 360 days after his first debut for the club.
After his club record move from Inter Milan, Lukaku made his second debut in the 2-0 victory over Arsenal on Sunday. The striker had failed to score in his previous spell with the Blues but needed just 15 minutes to find the net at the Emirates.
It’s already looking like the £98million Chelsea paid to sign him was money well spent and the 28-year-old has now overtaken Harry Kane as the bookies’ favourite to win the Golden Boot.
The Belgian has been hailed as the ‘game changer’ for Chelsea as they look to dethrone champions Manchester City and Thomas Tuchel’s side now look like serious title contenders.
Lukaku will battle it out with Kane to be the best striker in the Premier League and will be desperate to prove a point to those who criticised him during his time at Manchester United.
After leaving Old Trafford, the forward had the best spell of his career at Inter with Antonio Conte – and his secret was a Mediterranean diet.
The great bond between Conte and Lukaku was born at the table, between plates, forks and knives, thanks to a radical change of diet that improved his physical performance.
Lukaku was accused of being overweight when he left United and there were reports he could miss the start of his first season with Inter. But the striker hit back with a picture showing off his muscular physique, with the caption: ‘Not bad for a fat boy’.
Conte always insisted on having a nutritionist working with Lukaku from the minute he arrived in Milan. The Belgian lost half a stone thanks to a careful diet which saw him become fitter and stronger.
Lukaku improved physically and mentally, managing to increase his muscle mass and achieve greater speed and endurance, which has seen him become one of the best strikers in Europe.
Conte told Lukaku he would need just two months to see improvements in his physical ability and after two years he is back in the Premier League more motivated, serene and above all thinner.
Lukaku has always loved carbohydrates and potatoes, sweets and black rice, while he has drastically reduced the use of pasta, considered a kind of poison for Italian players.
In Italy there is a high-calorie cuisine made up of sauces, meat, desserts and fried fish – all foods strictly forbidden by Conte and the Inter health personnel who have always offered the players bresaola with rocket at breakfast.
Each country has its own specific way of preparing athletes for matches and Italy is certainly the best country to take care of the players’ bodies. Lukaku has always been an explosive player with muscles of steel, but Italy helped him show more muscle and less belly fat.
Lukaku in a podcast with the head nutritionist of the Nerazzurri club Matteo Pincella, published his passion for Mediterranean cuisine on the official channels of the club.
‘I eat a lot of carbohydrates only after matches: most of the time I eat two packs of gnocchi, it depends on what the chef has prepared,’ Lukaku said back in March.
‘They come into circulation quickly, they help me a lot. I already drink and eat at the stadium, in our dining room, or I take the food home, then I recover with lots of ice.
The Belgian striker has revealed the secret of his passion for Italian food, as reported by Sky Sport Italia last season.
‘Since I have been at Inter I have changed my diet and I can say that I have never felt so strong and concentrated.
‘My diet consists of salad for lunch, lots of chicken breast, shirataki pasta. I don’t change my way of eating much, for how we play we must have a very strong physique, we run a lot: since I follow this lifestyle I feel better on the pitch, I feel more responsive and faster.’
With Lukaku stronger, leaner and more determined than ever to be the best – Chelsea have every chance of competing for the title this season.