Manchester United have officially signed Romelu Lukaku from Everton.
After a much protracted chase of Alvaro Morata, the swoop for the Belgian was swift and effective.
Lukaku scored 25 goals in the Premier League last season and will replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front.
Here, our expert football writers have their say on United’s latest signing.
United were always going to go big on a striker this summer with Zlatan Ibrahimovic being released following his knee injury. In Romelu Lukaku, ‘big’ is just what they’ve got. Big fee, sure, but also huge presence in the box and massive potential.
The Belgian is nowhere near the player Ibrahimovic was and still is but he may well suit United more than the Swede. While the 35-year-old had a tendency to drop deep and affect play, in Lukaku Mourinho has the target man he craves, with pace and power in abundance.
Presumably, Marcus Rashford as a result will be spending more time out wide but with Champions League football to account for, the youngster could still see a fair bit of action up front over the course of the campaign.
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has an interesting choice to make with how he envisages feeding Lukaku the chances he craves.
Will he decide to utilise a phalanx of speedsters to nip around the Belgium centre forward as the fulcrum of a 4-3-3 formation? If so, this could be great news for Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Yet ‘the Special One’ rarely lives up to his name when it comes to crafting innovative attacking tactics. Convention dictates and this should see a move forced through in haste for Internazionale and Croatia wide man Ivan Perisic, with resident Armenia playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the other flank.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his surgically repaired knee searching for a new adventure, Manchester United have just got bigger and nastier at No9.
Ibrahimovic was no shrimp but in Jose Mourinho’s 4-2-3-1, Lukaku will be more effective holding defenders off with his brute strength – before he turns and goes on the rampage in the penalty box.
But where does Marcus Rashford fit into all of this? He enjoyed his most consistent spell as the main striker when Ibrahimovic was crocked at the back end of last season. A penny for his thoughts.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has undergone football’s most-expensive work experience scheme as he has transitioned – often painfully – from the finance to the football side of the business.
The true value of his latest mega deal comes not in the fee paid for Lukaku, but in what United have gained on the other side. In releasing the millstone of the past it Wayne Rooney to Everton, the Red Devils have freed up at least £90,000 (Dh425,731) per week, or £4.7m (Dh22.2m) per annum, from their wage bill when factoring in the club legend and the new man’s remuneration.
Rooney had to be transitioned out of the club this summer after 13 years of – once – stellar service. With China, Major League Soccer or another Premier League side not a realistic option, United expertly leveraged a situation whereby they bettered Chelsea for Lukaku and also released Rooney to his only obvious destination.
Let’s go back to 2004, when United bought Wayne Rooney for a then-whopping £30m (Dh142m). The Premier League were in the midst of a £1.2bn (Dh5.68bn) TV deal. Some 13 years later and the current deal is worth more than four times that amount for the UK rights alone.
So no matter how abstract the figures are when we compare it to the real world, the price is a fair one for a young, proven striker plying his trade in the world’s richest league.
In a decade’s time we’ll likely be shaking our heads at how comparatively small Lukaku’s transfer fee was. Football takes inflation to astronomic levels.
The reported initial fee of £75 million is a bit steep, particularly if it is meant to rise to £90 million with add-ons, but it’s far from ludicrous.
Lukaku, at just 24, represents an investment and if he enjoys even five good seasons at United, he would’ve justified his price tag.
Given the other prices being quoted this summer, like the £88 million for Andrea Belotti for example, the Belgian while not being a bargain, does come at a price a club of United’s deep pockets can live with.
Though Lukaku will naturally be expected to take a step up at United, it is difficult to envisage him being any less than a moderate success no matter what happens.
He is physically dominant, a proven Premier League quantity, has scored consistently at a club outside of the top six and is still only 24 years of age.
However – does he has the necessary guile to probe England’s, and now Europe’s, top defences? Last season 21 of his 25 Premier League goals came against clubs who finished eighth or lower. Playing for Everton was a fair excuse, but it’s an excuse no longer.
Alvaro Morata was clearly a target for United this summer and is the same age as Lukaku. Reportedly, he was available at roughly the same price, if not slightly less and boasts several trophies to his name with Real Madrid and Juventus.
Lukaku has been starved of silverware, but is bound to be hungry and motivated. Furthermore, he comes with proven Premier League pedigree and therefore isn’t as much of a gamble at that price.
The Spaniard may well be the more complete striker, and could’ve been a hit at Old Trafford, perhaps more so than Lukaku. But just because he’s not the ideal buy, doesn’t mean he’s the wrong one. He’s still a marked improvement from Ibrahimovic in terms of the kind of striker United need at this point.
The fallow years which have followed Sir Alex Ferguson’s exit in 2013 ensured United could no longer take a chance on potential.
Proven quality in key positions is a must. In this regard, Lukaku’s prolific Premier League exploits at Everton and West Bromwich Albion gives him a significant edge over fellow targets such as Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata and Torinho’s Andrea Belotti purely as he has been there and done it.
He’s also a known quantity when compared to in-house youngster Marcus Rashford. The prodigious 19-year-old’s top-flight return of 10 goals in 43 games – from a variety of positions – cannot stack up to a sample size of 85 strikes in 186 appearances.
I think Morata may have been more suited for United but I fully expect Lukaku to make an impact and excel for the Premier League giants.
His performances in big games is still suspect, as is his first touch and passing, but he demolishes lesser opposition. If he can kill off games against those teams, something United struggled with last season, he could propel them back to the top of the table where they can begin to challenge again.
The deal for Lukaku is one United simply had to make.
For a price which seems reasonable in this summer’s hot-house transfer market, they have; added an emerging global star, regular Premier League goalscorer, caused consternation at champions Chelsea, shown Real Madrid – again after David De Gea – they will no longer be dictated to by them in the transfer market and discovered a fiscally-prudent escape route for Rooney.
United have gone for a safe bet in Lukaku over Real Madrid’s unfortunate bench-warmer Alvaro Morata – and it will be interesting to chart both strikers’ progress over the next decade.
If Lukaku can dispel criticism of a poor first touch – which is certainly not a charge that can be levelled against Morata – and create space for Rashford, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba, then United’s attack will once again become feared.
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Swansea have rejected a £40 million bid from Leicester City for Gylfi Sigurdsson.
The Swans are reportedly holding out for £50 m for their star man, who scored nine goals and provided 13 assists to help the Swans survive in the top flight last season.
The Iceland playmaker said previously that he has no intention of leaving the Liberty Stadium unless the club want to sell him.
Should Paul Clement cash in now on the club’s prized asset?
The video below profiles the Leicester and Everton target.
Swansea have put a £50million price tag on Gylfi Sigurdsson, Press Association Sport understands.
The move comes as the Icelandic playmaker continues to be heavily linked with Everton and Leicester.
Swansea remain determined to keep hold of Sigurdsson, who was named the club’s player of the year for the second successive campaign last season.
The 27-year-old scored nine league goals and had 13 assists in a team which spent the entire season battling against relegation.
It was understood Swansea wanted at least £40million if they were to sell Sigurdsson, but that figure has now been revised with transfer fees spiralling this summer.
Sigurdsson has three years left on his contract having signed a new deal last August.
He has scored 30 goals in 112 games since the Swans signed him from Tottenham for £6.8m in July 2014.
Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins revealed in February that Sigurdsson was the subject of “substantial offers” during the last transfer window, with interest understood to have come from both home and abroad.
Sigurdsson said at the club’s end-of-season awards in May that he was happy at Swansea and would only leave the Liberty Stadium if the club wanted to sell him.
Everton have spent big in the summer transfer window so far with Jordan Pickford, Davy Klaassen, Michael Keane, Henry Onyekuru, Nathangelo Markelo and Sandro Ramirez joining their former player Wayne Rooney at Goodison Park.
The Toffees’ coffers are also set to be swelled by the sale of striker Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United for an initial £75m.
Leicester have also been strongly linked with Sigurdsson, particularly as Riyad Mahrez’s future has been in doubt after the Algeria international expressed his desire to leave the King Power Stadium.
Swansea midfielder Jack Cork, meanwhile, is in talks to join Burnley, a club where he has had two previous loan spells.
Cork, 28, has played 80 league games for Swansea since joining from Southampton in a £3m deal in January 2015.
But he lost his first-team place as Swansea secured their top-flight survival under Paul Clement.
And Cork’s game time could become even more limited following the £11m signing of Las Palmas midfielder Roque Mesa.
Provided by Press Association