Romelu Lukaku could not turn down the chance to join Manchester United after hearing Jose Mourinho’s plan to “rebuild the club”.
For much of the summer it had appeared that the 24-year-old was bound to leave Everton for Chelsea, only for United to swoop in and gazump his former club.
Mourinho was in charge when Lukaku was given the green light to leave Stamford Bridge, but three years on he now sees the striker as a key piece of the jigsaw at Old Trafford.
United forked out an initial £75 million for the Belgium international, whose mind was made up by his manager’s plans rather than the persuasive powers of close friend Paul Pogba.
“We were just on holiday together,” Lukaku said of the United and France midfielder, who he was away with in Los Angeles as the move was completed.
“At the end of the day I had to make my own choices. It was the conversation I had with the manager that really convinced me the most, the plans and how he wanted to rebuild the club and he wanted me to be part of it.
“I am grateful for the chance.”
Lukaku has big boots to fill following the exit of injured top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the club’s all-time leading marksman Wayne Rooney.
However, the 24-year-old’s impressive ratio for Everton suggests he is ready to step up at Old Trafford – and the striker is clearly raring to go.
“It feels great (to be a United player),” Lukaku said in Washington. “It is something I always wanted.
“I always wanted to play for a club of this stature. Now I am here I want to take my chance and try to deliver as much as I could for the club.
“I don’t want to talk about personal ambitions. I just want to work hard on a daily basis and win as many games as I can.”
Lukaku has certainly been made to work hard during United’s American tour, training with his new team-mates for the first time within an hour of his move being made official.
Mourinho has praised the new boy at nearly every public appearance after a promising start, following up his first goal in a United shirt at Real Salt Lake with a stunning effort in the 2-0 derby win against Manchester City.
“It has gone well for the team,” Lukaku said of the build-up to the 2017-18 season. “Everybody is well prepared.
“We are working really hard and delighted to be here and we need to keep going.”
Alvaro Morata will wear the No9 shirt at Chelsea, and while all signs point to the Spaniard enjoying a successful time in London after being reunited with Antonio Conte, his former manager at Juventus, there seems to be a curse on that number at Stamford Bridge.
Radamel Falcao was the last high-profile player to wear the No9 in Chelsea blue, and he became the latest in a long line of players to flop in that shirt.
Fernando Torres famously struggled to make an impact at Stamford Bridge, but he was continuing a tradition upheld by a long line of No9s.
Only Hernan Crespo came close to breaking the curse, scoring 20 times in 49 league appearances, but even he spent three of his five seasons at the club out on loan.
Check out which other players failed to live up to the expectations of the No9 shirt at Chelsea in the video below uploaded to HITC Sport’s YouTube channel.
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte said Monday that forward Pedro sustained “multiple fractures” to his face after colliding with Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina.
The 29-year-old Spaniard was taken to hospital with a bloodied face after Ospina flew into him while clearing a ball with two fists during the Blues’ 3-0 pre-season win over their London rivals in Beijing on Saturday.
Pedro spent the night in a Beijing hospital and returned to London the following day.
Speaking to media in Singapore ahead of a friendly with Bayern Munich on Tuesday, Conte said: “The situation was more serious because I hoped that it would only be a concussion.
“Instead he had multiple fractures and I think with a mask in 10 days, he could come back to work for us.”
Conte said there was no ill-feeling towards Ospina.
“Absolutely no, because I was a player, I know these accidental (challenges) could happen,” said Conte. “Ospina tried to take the ball.”
Ahead of the clash with Bayern, Conte confirmed that new signing Alvaro Morata is in line to make his first appearance for the Premier League champions.
“In my plan it is to give him the possibility to play a part of the game against Munich for sure,” said the Italian.
Spanish international Morata signed for Chelsea last week in a deal reported to be worth up to €80 million.
Asked about Diego Costa – the man Morata is likely to replace – Conte did not comment.
He also refused to discuss midfielder Nemanja Matic, who has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester United.
“I don’t like to talk about players still here with us,” added the Chelsea boss.
Provided by AFP Sport