Everton striker Romelu Lukaku served notice that he is ready to consign last season’s post-transfer plateau to the dustbin of history with two goals against Southampton last weekend.
Described as unplayable on the day by manager Roberto Martinez, the brace meant he is already one fifth of the way to equalling his league tally for the whole of 2014/15.
Lukaku was trimmed into 16/1 joint-fourth favourite in the Premier League top-goalscorer betting by the bwin odds compilers as a result and given the mitigation for his moderate campaign last time around there is little reason to doubt his career will resume its upward trajectory.
The striker has been opening up about the substantial personal and fitness issues that held him back in his first season at Goodison Park as a Everton-owned player.
“I feel way fitter. Of course, last year, without any pre-season, starting in the league, it took me six months before I got to my level, but now I am fit so there is no excuse for me to perform like I did last year”, the Belgian admitted in an interview with Eurosport.
With no major international tournament to hamper his preparation this time around, much of his summer has been spent honing his physical strength and fitness:
“I trained when I was in America with some guys there, then I trained when I was in Belgium as well.”
“Really, I wanted to start the season fit. When I came back in, I was not overweight, I had more muscles.
“I just felt fit also with the physical tests. I was very good, so I was very happy. I knew that there was a good season coming.”
Often accused of looking disinterested last term, Lukaku was in fact dealing with a tough period in his personal life, as he told the Guardian:
“When I signed for Everton permanently my father was very ill and I was not in a good place because of that. My father has always been a big influence in my life. I am alone here and when my father was ill it was very difficult for me.
“Then my friend Junior [Malanda] died as well [the 20-year-old Wolfsburg midfielder]. He was very close to me and my family and I really wasn’t good at that time.”
League leaders Manchester City, in ominous form after dismantling Chelsea 3-0 last Sunday are next up on the Lukaku agenda, yet the refocused, reinvigorated Belgian is far from cagey about his prospects.
“I am taller than them, I am bigger than them so I am not scared.” he observed when quizzed about the upcoming battle with Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala.