Romelu Lukaku has described himself as one of the most gifted strikers in world football.
The Everton striker scored as Belgium, who face Ireland on June 18 in the European Championships, drew 1-1 with Finland in a friendly last night.
Speaking before his latest goalscoring contribution, Lukaku said. “I’m among the best. That’s good. Personally I am happy.”
Lukaku, who may face club-mates Seamus Coleman, Aiden McGeady and James McCarthy in the Euros, said the prospect of going head-to-head with them had been part of the dressing room banter at the club.
“They are happy to be going to France and warn me that they are going to make life difficult for us. I jokingly reply that we won’t be easy meat,” the Belgian said.
Meanwhile, Karim Benzema has accused Didier Deschamps of giving in to pressure from racists when the France coach decided not to include him in the squad for the Euros. In an interview with Marca, Benzema said he does not believe Deschamps is a racist, but he “bowed to the pressure”.
Deschamps has been a long-time supporter of Benzema, who has been suspended from the national team because of his involvement in an extortion scam over a sex tape involving France teammate Mathieu Valbuena.
“I would have liked to play for my country, but unfortunately that’s impossible,” Benzema said. “Missing the 2010 World Cup was a setback, but the European Championship at home is even harder. This is one of the biggest disappointments I have had.”
Benzema’s comments echoed those of former France international Eric Cantona, who said Deschamps might have left out Benzema and Nice winger Hatem Ben Arfa on racial grounds.
Ben Arfa scored 17 goals in 33 French league matches this season but was not selected in Deschamps’ group of players for the tournament starting on June 10.
Deschamps had many offensive options at his disposal and picked six attacking players, including Antoine Griezmann, Dimitri Payet, Anthony Martial, Kingsley Coman, Olivier Giroud and Andre-Pierre Gignac.
“Benzema is a great player. Ben Arfa is a great player,” Cantona told the Guardian. “But Deschamps, he has a really French name. Maybe he is the only one in France to have a truly French name. Nobody in his family mixed with anybody, you know. Like the Mormons in America. So I’m not surprised he used the situation of Benzema not to take him. And Ben Arfa is maybe the best player in France today. But they have some origins.”
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