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Lukaku's developed into a world-class striker: Cahill

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku

Bengaluru, May 17: Ahead of the FA Cup final, Chelsea skipper Gary Cahill has termed Manchester United star forward Romelu Lukaku as a world class player and also said that the player has improved drastically since leaving Chelsea.

Lukaku joined Chelsea from Anderlecht for £18m in 2011 but only made 15 appearances in his Blues' career before joining West Brom on loan for a year and later Everton on a permanent deal for £28m three years later. Since leaving the London side, the Belgian international proved to be a massive hit and became a consistent goalscorer for all his playing sides.

Seeing his rise in form, his former side attempted to buy him back last summer, but the player instead moved to Manchester United for an initial £75m. Lukaku in his debut campaign at Old Trafford has already been a hit as he netted 27 times and became the fifth youngest player to reach the tally of 100 Premier League goals in April when he netted the second goal against Bournemouth in a 2-0 win. And now the player will be eagerly looking forward to this Saturday when they visit Wembley for the FA Cup final for his first winner's medal with United.

United will face a Chelsea side who will play their consecutive FA Cup final after losing it out against Arsenal last year. And according to Chelsea skipper Cahill, who played alongside a younger Lukaku in his time at Stamford Bridge, his team has their task cut out and it will be 'difficult' to stop 'world class' Lukaku, although he is not the only threat.

"It'll be difficult. I've played against him and trained against him loads of times," Cahill said. "The cup final's going to be whoever performs on the day. We've put the season to bed and we have a full week to prepare in the right way.

"When he was here he had talent but he was very young. He's developed into a world-class striker so credit to him. Sometimes when you're at a club like Chelsea you feel sorry when you see a player move on, because naturally some progress and some don't. You don't hear about the ones that don't.

"We all know it's hard to have time to come in as a young player -- maybe the club and the supporters give you seven, eight, nine games where you're rusty and not performing. It's difficult to do that. They've gone on and developed elsewhere, and he's gone on to be a top player. There's loads of them.

"What everyone can see - pace, power, strength and he can finish. His goalscoring record is very good. But we're not focusing on one player in this team. First and foremost, we're focused on what we're trying to do, and be respectful of the fact that they have numerous players who can turn a game on its head, as do we."

Chelsea ended the season in a fifth position, outside the Champions league spot whereas United finished second in the league. But both the teams failed to win any silverware this term and the FA Cup will be their last resort of earning a trophy this season.

In the last meeting between these two at Old Trafford, United beat Chelsea 2-1, with Lukaku scoring one and assisting another. Previously, two years back the former Everton player also stopped Chelsea from reaching the FA Cup semi-final where he scored a brace to knock them out of the Cup.

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Story first published: Thursday, May 17, 2018, 14:25 [IST]
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