Alvaro Morata is bound for Chelsea rather than Manchester United but Jose Mourinho does not care having wrapped up a deal for “amazing” striker Romelu Lukaku.
Just weeks ago it had appeared that the Real Madrid frontman would be heading to Old Trafford, while Lukaku would return to Stamford Bridge three years after joining Everton.
Instead, United gazumped Chelsea to the signing of their former player and Antonio Conte’s men have now agreed a deal for Morata, subject to a medical and personal terms.
Mourinho last week admitted to having a “special liking” for the Spain international after giving him a chance when Madrid coach, yet seeing him join a Premier League rival does not stick in the craw.
“I am not interested in what Chelsea Football Club does, really,” the United boss said in Houston. “We needed a striker, yes. We needed with Zlatan (Ibrahimovic) in his best conditions, we needed one to give cover, to give options.
“Him and Marcus (Rashford) was not enough and especially after Zlatan’s injury.
“We got a big player – a player that I can compare with what he was a few years ago because he worked with me a few months four or five years ago.
“His development was very, very good, so we think we have a player that is now a top player in Europe.
“He has to prove it at the highest level, there is always that point. Now he has to do it for Manchester United, in Champions League matches but I think he has amazing qualities.
“I think it was obvious Chelsea would sign a striker, especially after the situation with the manager and Diego (Costa).
“It was clear that they were going to get a striker, they did it with Alvaro and Alvaro is a very good player for them.”
Lukaku followed Benfica defender Victor Lindelof into a club that is still active in the market, with Chelsea defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic, Tottenham’s Eric Dier and Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic all been linked with them.
Mourinho would ideally like to sign a further two players but has come to the terms with the fact only one may arrive in this inflated market.
“The problem is with us is we have four players that cannot play football now, not even training,” Mourinho said. “It looks like our group is big but it is not because they can’t ever train and the time for their recovery is really long.
“Marcos (Rojo) has no chance before December, as an example, so our squad is not so big.
“Everybody knows because I said it, very objective I would like four players and asked for four players.
“I’m ready to go from four to three because the market is difficult, because some clubs they think the market is different from others.
“We are not a club that is not ready to buy and buy and buy non-stop. We are not a club that is ready to pay what clubs wants us to pay, so I am ready to go from four to three.
“With these three, I just give a better balance to the team, to the squad and better conditions to compete.”
Mourinho suggests #mufc won't sign Perisic and Matic. 'We're ready to pay what clubs want us to pay. I’m ready to go from four to three.'— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) July 20, 2017
The comments could be construed as a dig at Inter over the tense Perisic transfer negotiations, or perhaps Manchester City ahead of Thursday’s International Champions Cup clash.
Kyle Walker is set to make his first City appearance at the Houston Texans’ NRG Stadium – the first Manchester derby on foreign soil – having arrived from Tottenham in a deal that could reach £50million.
Asked if that sum had surprised him, Mourinho said: “It doesn’t surprise me, really.
“It doesn’t surprise me because I keep saying there is big economic power in every club that allows the clubs to say no or to say, ‘You pay what I want or you don’t get it’.
“I can imagine that Man City would like to pay £25million for Kyle. I can imagine that.
“But I am sure that they knocked on Spurs’ door and were told, ‘This is the price’. If you don’t pay, you don’t get.
“Then you have the option to pay or have the option to say no, so the market will be always what people ask and what people pays.
“The strange thing is that now I am used to paying or seeing teams paying big amounts for big players – and now everybody is paying big amounts for good players.
“There is a difference between good players and big players, and now the figures go really crazy also for normal players.”
With the transfer window in full swing the rumour mill has gone into overdrive.
We dissect all of the top gossip doing the rounds across media channels in Europe to discover the fact from the fiction.
Will any of the following deals happen?
Manchester United have emerged as rivals to Barcelona in the chase for coveted Paris Saint-Germain and Italy star Marco Verratti, according to TuttoMercatoWeb.
Barca have been strongly linked to the metronomic centre midfielder throughout the summer, most recently reportedly failing with an offer of €65 million (Dh275.3 million) plus maligned Portugal international Andre Gomes. These setbacks have opened up an opportunity for Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho, whose clubs have made contact with Verratti’s entourage.
Intriguingly, Sportitalia have stated the highly-rated 24-year-old could be about to dump long-term agent Donato Di Campli for Mino Raiola – the man who has taken Sergio Romero, Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Romelu Lukaku to Old Trafford in recent years.
Verratti has reportedly decided to ditch Di Campli after his incendiary remarks earlier this month about PSG’s stance towards Barca.
This still looks like a long shot for United, but the potential switch of representatives for Verratti is intriguing.
Raiola’s superior relationship with them and the club’s willingness to pay more to the ‘super-agent’ were key to stealing Lukaku away from Chelsea’s grip at the last minute. Could they do the same to Barca?
Verratti’s supreme game management and spiky nature would enliven the United midfield. The thought of him teaming up with Paul Pogba and Ander Herrera is tantalising, albeit still a long shot with PSG so reluctant to cash in on him.
Ross Barkley and Everton’s excessive financial demands look set to scupper his escape route to Tottenham Hotspur, according to the Daily Mirror.
Spurs are looking to bolster their squad for another Champions League campaign. But have been blown away by the midfielder’s request to be their highest-paid player on £150,000 (Dh717,557) a week and a difference in valuation whereby they are only prepared to spend about £15 million (Dh71.8 million) to acquire his signature, while the Toffees want £50 million (Dh239.2 million).
The England midfielder, 23, has just one-year left on the deal at his boyhood club and their extensive list of summer signings is likely to squeeze his chances next term.
You couldn’t pick a worse chairman to make, frankly ridiculous, demands to than Spurs’ parsimonious Daniel Levy.
Barkley’s decline in both form and standing at Goodison Park makes it ludicrous that he could be paid more money than England superstars Harry Kane and Dele Alli.
Unless major alterations are made, Barkley will not be running out at Wembley next season – for club or country.
Big-spending AC Milan’s pursuit of a second elite centre forward in the summer market is set to land them Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic, according to Corriere dello Sport.
Kalinic, 29, scored an impressive 20 times for the Viola last term and has moved to the top of the Rossoneri’s shopping list after Borussia Dortmund refused to sell Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to them.
They have already bought the highly-rated Portugal striker Andre Silva from Porto, while Colombia’s Carlos Bacca is set to be retained.
Kalinic declined advances from the Chinese Super League in the recent past, but it is a different matter when ambitious Milan come calling.
At 29-years old, this move would represent a final payday for both himself and his club. Don’t expect the Croatia international to be denied this chance if Milan come through with the money.
He would also be considerably cheaper than Spain’s Alvaro Morata, for whom Real Madrid already proved reluctant sellers when Manchester United tried to by him earlier this summer.
Manchester United made it two wins from two on their pre-season tour of America, but Jose Mourinho’s men were made to work much harder for victory than in their opening 5-2 demolition of the LA Galaxy on Saturday.
Romelu Lukaku got his first United goal in his second appearance, a cool, composed finish which turned out to be the winner in a 2-1 triumph for the 10-man Reds, who saw Antonio Valencia harshly shown a straight red card in the second half.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan also continued his fine form across the pond with a well-taken goal to level the match after United had gone behind to Luis Silva’s opener – before delivering a delightful assist for Lukaku’s winner.
Here, we look at three things United and manager Mourinho can take away from this game…
He’s vilified by non-United fans as being ‘not very good’ and he even divides opinion among Reds fans, but he’s been one of the standout stars at the start of the US tour.
He’s bagged three assists in two games and at a time when most players are stepping up their fitness and searching for sharpness, the 24-year-old looks in peak condition.
The Warrington-born Lingard isn’t the sturdiest of players and is often chastised for his carelessness in possession, but he’s been bright in attack, dropping deep to receive the ball in midfield and distributing it well, while he looks like he’s been working on his defensive duties.
His tenacity saw him dispossess LA Galaxy defender Nathan Smith and set up Marcus Rashford for United’s opening goal on the tour after just 115 seconds before he cleverly teed up Marouane Fellaini to make it 3-0.
Against Real Salt Lake he welcomed possession at every opportunity and rarely wasted it, while his role in Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s equaliser was a joy to behold. He was also involved in the build-up to Romelu Lukaku’s first United goal.
There were certainly areas of his game he needed to work on over the summer but the local lad is looking good.
With 15 draws recorded from their 38 Premier League games, taking chances was United’s biggest Achilles heel last season.
Despite forking out a world record fee to bring Paul Pogba back from Juventus and armed with an arsenal of attacking options, the Reds performed pitifully in front of goal – all five sides who finished above them in the Premier League scored more than their 54, as did Everton and even Bournemouth.
Profligacy was United’s greatest enemy. Despite a wealth of attacking talent, breaking down defences and creating chances – and finishing off the ones we did create – cost them dearly.
But in the first two games on tour, United have oozed quality going forward, with seven goals in two games.
Intricate one-touch passing between the lines involving Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick and Andreas Pereira has been a feature as they have fed the frontmen of Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford who have duly responded by finding the back of the net.
Despite last season’s woes in front of goal, failing to create and take chances has undermined United’s play in the seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
United have lost their cutting edge, but maybe, just maybe, that will change next season.
It’s been interesting to note Andreas Pereira’s two 45-minute displays in pre-season so far. The diminutive Brazilian featured in the second half of both games against LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake but whereas previous punctuated appearances for the Reds have seen the 21-year-old play in an attacking midfield, forward or wide role, he’s been deployed by Mourinho in central midfield in America, in a holding role.
Some United fans may find this perplexing but few will recall that when he actually arrived at Old Trafford from Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven in 2011 it was as a defensive midfielder. He was converted into a more forward-thinking player due to his technical proficiency.
Mourinho’s inclusion of Pereira on the US tour is just reward for a fine season last year on loan with Granada in La Liga, while the No15 jersey he’s been wearing could be an indication of his first-team standing for the coming season.
He’s been calm and assured in possession, his ball retention – a glaring fault of his game in his formative United years – has visibly been honed during his time in Spain, while he also developed a taste for tackling last season too – winning 44 per cent of his duels. All these attributes could see him excel in a central midfield three.
Mourinho’s trialing of the youngster in that area of the field might also serve as an indication that, should he be satisfied with what he sees from Pereira on the tour, he might prefer to make him a permanent fixture of the first team squad and relinquish summer pursuits for specialist holding midfielders like Nemanja Matic and Eric Dier.