Romelu Lukaku is on the brink of joining Inter Milan from Manchester United – a move club greats Phil Neville, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes will not be shedding a tear about.
Two years after his big-money arrival from Everton, the 26-year-old is departing for Serie A in a deal that PA understands could reach 80 million euros (£73.75million).
United have included a sell-on clause as part of a deal that is close to being completed after Lukaku arrived in Milan overnight to complete paperwork and a medical.
The exit has been long a time coming and a rather uncomfortable process, with a number of United favourites believing the deal is for the best.
Phil Neville told PA: “He started well, didn’t he? He started well.
“I’ll be honest with you, I never felt as if he was a United centre forward. That was my feeling.
“But he started well, then obviously he lost a little bit of confidence and then found it difficult to get back up to form.
“I think there was always that feeling of was he fit enough? And was his style suited to playing football for Manchester United? That was my question.
“He’ll always score goals wherever he goes. He’ll score goals for Inter Milan.
“But the way you want to play, you’ve got to fit the right people on the bus and Romelu Lukaku was never that person.”
Neville was speaking as TalkTalk celebrated a new five-year partnership with Salford City, with fellow part-owners Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville also in attendance.
The latter was pretty cutting in his assessment of Lukaku in a Twitter post sent before the event.
“He admitted he was overweight!” Gary Neville wrote. “He is over 100kg! He’s a Manchester United player! He will score goals and do well at Inter Milan but unprofessionalism is contagious.”
While not as pointed, Scholes does not believe Lukaku suited former team-mate Solskjaer’s style.
“I don’t think he was suited to Ole either,” the former United midfielder said.
“Ole wants someone with a bit of energy, a bit of speed, someone who is going to work hard (but) he’ll score goals.”
Lukaku could be followed out of the exit door on deadline day by defender Marcos Rojo. PA understands talks have been held with Everton about a loan deal for the Argentina international, who has dropped further down the pecking order following the record-breaking acquisition of Harry Maguire from Leicester.
A number of younger players could also be making temporary exits, but incomings look increasingly unlikely as the clock winds down.
Hope of a possible deal for Juventus’ Mario Mandzukic is dimming. Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James are United’s only first-team acquisitions this summer, while Antonio Valencia and Ander Herrera left at the end of their contracts.
Marouane Fellaini joined Chinese side Shandong Luneng at the start of the year.
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Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is said to be reluctant to sell Eriksen to a direct rival with an overseas buyer his preferred destination for the midfielder.
According to Spanish daily AS, both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are keeping tabs on Eriksen’s situation.
While it is no secret that Zinedine Zidane is desperate to bring Manchester United man Paul Pogba to the Spanish capital, speculation surrounding a move for last season’s Ajax breakout Donny van de Beek has intensified in recent days.
However, AS say Madrid have kept in contact with Eriksen’s representatives in case a deal for Pogba – which is looking increasingly unlikely – falls through.
Spurs risk losing Eriksen, who has scored 49 times in 206 Premier League appearances, on a free next summer with his contract running down.
Tottenham – who are looking to secure Real Betis midfielder Giovani Lo Celso as a potential replacement – face a decision on whether to accept a higher transfer fee from United, or sell him to a club outside of England.
Sides outside the Premier League are expected to lodge bids under the £50m mark, while United were apparently quoted £130m earlier this year, though the dynamic has changed drastically since then.
It is understood that Real remains Eriksen’s clear No1 choice, though, The Independent report that he is ‘seriously’ considering the offer from Manchester.
Another player with an uncertain future is United striker Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian was pictured training with Anderlecht’s youth team on a day off on Monday.
He is expected to leave Old Trafford with Juventus keen on a move, although that switch has been complicated after Paulo Dybala shunned being used in a potential swap-deal.
Serie A rivals Inter Milan have had bids rejected for Lukaku and are still interested, but it remains to be seen as to whether they can afford the £75 million-plus United are looking for.
New Manchester United defender Harry Maguire described himself as “really proud” to have joined the Red Devils in his first interview after his £80million arrival from Leicester City was confirmed.
United announced on Monday they had completed the signing of the England defender from the Foxes on a six-year contract, for a fee that is a world record for a defender.
The fee surpassed the £75m Liverpool paid Southampton for Virgil Van Dijk in January 2018.
“A really proud moment for myself to join such a big club,” Maguire told United’s in-house MUTV channel.
“You always dream about walking out at Wembley Stadium and Old Trafford…they are the two big stadiums when you are a young kid.
“First and foremost, I see myself as a good defender. That’s my main thing…I am in the team to stop goals and keep clean sheets. I am really proud to be here. It’s such a big club and I am really looking forward to getting started.”
Maguire could make his debut in Manchester United’s Premier League season opener against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday.
The 26-year-old was strongly linked with both Manchester clubs over the summer but Leicester held out for their valuation to be met.
He becomes United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s third summer signing, after right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka arrived from Crystal Palace and winger Daniel James joined from Swansea.
“It’s an amazing club,” he added.
“A club that I’ve always watched and I’ve always looked up to when I was younger and now I am part of it. The atmosphere and the stadium itself is just so unique and is something so special.
“Experience is a big thing. You play a lot of games as a young boy and you learn like I did in League One and moved up to the Championship and went through the leagues. I felt like that really helped me.”