An exclusive surfaced from the Daily Mail last night suggesting Manchester United are set to hijack Chelsea with a world-record £100 million move for Everton striker Romelu Lukaku.
According to the newspaper’s chief sports reporter, Matt Lawton, United hope to gazump Chelsea by signing the Belgium international, who scored 25 goals in 36 Premier League appearances last season.
A return to former club Chelsea was thought to be on the cards, but Lukaku has been linked with a move to Old Trafford ever since his father admitted last year that United are the kind of club that Everton star should be aspiring to represent.
“He’s ready. I see that there is interest from Atletico Madrid, Bayer Munich, Juventus, Chelsea and Manchester United,” Roger Lukaku told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.
“I think he must choose Manchester United Bayern Munich. Manchester United is a team under construction with no real focus.”
A year on it looks like such a move might be about to materialise.
For a 24-year-old, Lukaku’s goal scoring record is exceptional and Jose Mourinho needs to address United’s struggles in front of goal. Last season, even with Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front, United wasted far too many opportunities, therefore, drawing a considerable amount of winnable games.
Antoine Griezmann, Alvaro Morata and Torino’s Andrea Belotti have all been mentioned as possible targets, but the latest revelations about Lukaku seem to put him on top of United’s wish list.
One key factor that could make a move to Old Trafford a realistic prospect for Lukaku is that his agent, Mino Raiola, has worked very closely with the club over the past year. He is the man responsible for taking fellow clients Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to United last summer.
However, Lukaku has two years remaining on his current Everton contract. That suggests the Toffees are under no obligation to sell their talisman, although United are willing to do business with the Merseyside club regarding Wayne Rooney potentially making a sensational return to Goodison Park.
But when push comes to shove, United fans want to know who Mourinho should prioritise. The Morata saga has dragged on all summer, with Real Madrid seemingly looking to aggravate the Premier League club in revenge after failed attempts to lure goalkeeper David de Gea to the Bernabeu.
Morata would be a sensible signing if Mourinho wants a centre forward to simply lead the line. The former Juventus striker operates with a directness and purpose that, combined with quick feet, could make him a tormentor of Premier League defenders.
Then, there is Lukaku, a hitman who can lead the line alone with support from one or more attacking midfielders. His resistance to pressure enables him to receive the ball further up the pitch before sending it out wide or to a close-by teammate.
It all comes down to which player can adjust quickly to Mourinho’s defensive demands. After all, the Portuguese boss puts great emphasis on defensive play, meaning organisation and positioning elements are key to how the team operates.
Both players are 24, but Lukaku as a complete attacker is arguably more suited, especially given how Mourinho has an array of technical and creative midfielders, wingers and attacking midfielders at his disposal.
Lukaku may prove to be another solution to unleash Pogba, the world-record signing United made last summer to build the team around.