Manchester United were much improved in the 2017/18 campaign, finishing in second place for the first time since winning the title in 2013. Jose Mourinho’s men suffered a shock exit at the hands of Sevilla in the last-16 stages of the Champions League but the Red Devils can redeem for that defeat with a win in the FA Cup final. On the whole, it has been a solid enough campaign and Romelu Lukaku’s goals have been crucial in recent months.

The 20-time English champions came under scrutiny after paying an estimated £74 million to sign the Belgium striker last summer. Since then, Lukaku has gone on to score 26 goals in 49 appearances in all competitions – silencing most of his critics. Mourinho has stood by the former Everton man throughout the season and he will be central to United’s style of play in the 2018/19 Premier League campaign.

At just 25 years old, the Belgium striker has already achieved more than most. Lukaku has scored 101 goals in 220 Premier League appearances; an excellent ratio. He is still some way short of Alan Shearer’s incredible tally of 260 top flight goals but Lukaku has time on his side and the Red Devils star will be confident of a successful career at Old Trafford.

Before that, though, Lukaku will team up with his Belgium teammates for the World Cup this summer. Roberto Martinez’s side are well fancied to go on and lift the Jules Rimet Trophy on July 15th and Lukaku’s goals will be key to their chances. As of May 14th, the United star is 16/1 at William Hill to win the Golden Boot award for the tournament. On recent efforts, it would be foolish to back against him.

With 33 goals in 66 international matches, Lukaku has already proven himself on the big stage for Belgium. Martinez is likely to mould his team around the United forward and most punters are expecting Belgium to advance to the latter stages of the competition. Group G is Belgium’s for the taking; Tunisia and Panama probably won’t offer up too much resistance whilst England’s record at major tournaments is less than impressive.

If Lukaku is at his brilliant best, he could enter the last-16 stages with four or five goals to his name. A positive World Cup is an absolute must for the big Belgian – United fans will hope that he can carry that momentum into the 2018/19 season. Closing the 19-point deficit to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City is the initial objective for United; the title could follow if Lukaku and co are on song.

Expecting United to win the title next season would be unwise but a closer challenge to City’s dominance is fair. Romelu Lukaku will want to compete with Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah for the Golden Boot award in 2018/19; he was right in the mix at one stage but the others have been too strong since the busy festive period. If Lukaku hits top form and starts the campaign quickly, he could develop an unassailable lead.