Lukaku and Pogba: Returning Heroes or Defeated Conquerors?

Perhaps one wouldn’t note it at first glimpse, but Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba have great many things in common. This goes way beyond their time together at Old Trafford between 2017 and 2019 and their poor relations with then-manager José Mourinho.

We’re talking about two stars who should have been among the elite of the elite in world football, but are instead perceived as players who haven’t quite fulfilled their promise just yet, despite reaching the age of 29. Perhaps their career choices and the back-and-forth switches have taken their toll on their development.

Moreover, both the Frenchman and the Belgian had earned switches to the Premier League at tender ages. Pogba signed for Manchester United in 2009, while Lukaku joined Chelsea two years later.

Yet, their brightest spells thus far ensued on Italian soil. The midfielder rose to stardom as a young midfielder who took Serie A by storm during his time at Juventus between 2012 and 2016.

On the other hand, the giant bomber made his bones at West Bromwich Albion and Everton, but resorted to Italy in 2019 on the back of a disappointing stint with the Red Devils. This is where he developed into one of the most terrifying strikers in the world under the watchful eye of Antonio Conte.

Simply put, Lukaku and Pogba had it all in Serie A. Stardom, appreciation, success, Scudetto titles and personal accolades and awards. However, it wasn’t enough to repel the appeal of the English sirens.

Maybe it was the lucrative contracts and the glamor of the Premier League, or perhaps their decisions were driven by the need for redemption as they felt they had some unfinished business with their respective former clubs. After all, Pogba had left the Red Devils at a very young age and without leaving a significant mark. It was a similar case for Lukaku at Chelsea.

Hence, they both returned to their initial bases with a point to prove for their clubs, their fans, and most importantly for themselves.

Unfortunately, neither man truly found what he was seeking in his old house. The two transfers which were billed as “homecoming” were anything but.

We all know the story by now. Pogba and the never-ending controversies at United throughout the course of six seasons filled with highs and lows (mostly the latter), Lukaku and his awkward rapport with Thomas Tuchel which put an end to a short but miserable second spell at the Stamford Bridge.

Therefore, the two players are now expected to complete another “homecoming”. But this time, these won’t be returns fueled by the desire of rewriting history. On the contrary, these men are seeking a safe haven which would allow them to recapture the fading magic from their respective playing careers.

Pogba will soon finalize his transfer to Juventus as a free agent, exactly ten years following his his first landing in Turin. Lukaku should then follow suit and make amends with Inter supporters after turning his back on them last summer.

Perhaps some will ridicule their underwhelming stints on the English shores, especially EPL fans who would pounce on every opportunity to belittle the competition from the continent.

Nonetheless, Serie A fanatics might pay no heed to the circumstances that prompted these two comebacks. After all, Calcio is in dire need for returning heroes who can add some much-needed quality and glamour to the Italian league, even if it comes in the form of two defeated crusaders who failed to conquer British isles.