Romelu Lukaku believes tough times at Manchester United have made him a better player for Inter Milan

Belgian striker reveals new calmness at the Dubai International Sports Conference

epa08029886 Romelu Lukaku (R) of Inter celebrates after scoring the 2-1 during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Slavia Prague and Inter in Prague, Czech Republic, 27 November 2019.  EPA/MARTIN DIVISEK

Romelu Lukaku says the criticism he received at Manchester United has made him a much better player – and that Inter Milan are now reaping the rewards.

The Belgian striker, 26, traded England for Italy in the summer for a club record €80 million (Dh328m) and has settled superbly, scoring 14 goals in 22 appearances.

Lukaku’s contribution has helped fire Inter to the top of Serie A, with the club going into the winter break ahead of champions Juventus on goal difference.

The forward's form is in stark contrast to his final season at United, when despite scoring 15 goals in 45 matches Lukaku was often overlooked by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in favour of Marcus Rashford.

Subsequently, Lukaku attracted significant criticism from United supporters. By the time he left the club, he had scored 42 goals in 96 games during two years at Old Trafford.

Speaking on Saturday at the Dubai International Sports Conference, Lukaku refused to talk negatively about United, saying: “The period there made me be so much more calm. I don’t look at it as a negative thing. It really helped me mentally to be ready, to prepare myself better, to grow as a player and as a person.

“The experience for me was enjoyable. I will never look at it as a bad experience, because it helped me get to where I am today. And right now Inter Milan is benefitting from it, from all the things, on the sports side and also outside.

“I’m much more prepared and much more calm in my head, there’s much more composure. Because I’m the type of person who when things are not going well, then I showed a lot of anger. But now I’m much more hardened for that experience I had at Manchester United.”