Conte likens Lukaku to NFL quarterback as Inter boss lauds Hakimi

By Sports Desk December 05, 2020

Inter head coach Antonio Conte compared Romelu Lukaku to an NFL quarterback, while he also hailed two-goal hero Achraf Hakimi following Saturday's 3-1 win over Bologna.

Conte's Inter closed the gap on Serie A leaders and city rivals Milan to two points thanks to Lukaku and full-back Hakimi at San Siro.

Inter star Lukaku broke the deadlock in the 16th minute before Hakimi doubled the advantage on the stroke of half-time.

Emanuel Vignato's 67th-minute goal threatened to make things tense for Inter, but Hakimi's second wrapped up proceedings as the Nerazzurri took their tally to 26 goals in the first 10 Serie A games of the season for the first time since 2009-10.

Conte heaped praise on in-form forward Lukaku, who has scored eight goals in his first nine league appearances this term – the Belgium international has scored more than seven goals before the 11th match of the season for the first time in his career.

Lukaku has also scored in all of his first four home appearances in Serie A in 2020-21, joining Christian Vieri as the only Inter players to achieve the feat in the league's three-point-win era.

"I believe he can still get stronger," Conte told DAZN. "I described him as a rough diamond when he arrived and felt that work would help him become one of the best strikers in the world.

"He is on the right track, as he has everything, the physicality of a centre-forward, but also the pace and power of an American Football quarterback.

"He is doing well, has understood what needs to be done, is humble and works for the team. I am very happy with him."

Hakimi, who arrived from LaLiga champions Real Madrid ahead of the current campaign following two successful seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund, became the only Serie A defender this term to score at least two goals and provide two assists.

"This lad is 20 years old and had just two seasons at Dortmund, where they play a much less tactical style of football. Haki is working hard, he has realised the difference between playing in Italy and Germany, where the opponents don't study you as much, where they don't identify your characteristics as precisely," Conte added.

"I think he is in the right team and with the right coach to become one of the best in the world in his role. It will require a lot of work, but I'm very happy, because this type of performance will boost his confidence, whereas errors in the past might've dented his self-belief.

"He needs a balance, it's going to be a process and I am glad he got this personal satisfaction of a brace."

Christian Eriksen, who is out of favour and heading for a January exit just a year after swapping Tottenham for Inter, was a stoppage-time substitute against Bologna.

"My rapport with Christian is the same as all the other players. I will never tire of explaining that what I do and the choices I make are for the good of Inter," Conte.

"The last thing I do is look at the face of the player, it's about everything else. Eriksen is working and he is at our disposal."

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