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As Lukaku signs for the Red Devils!





Romelu Lukaku finally put pen to paper in a 75-million-pound deal that took him from Everton to Manchester United. All through the summer, it had looked like the big Belgian who turned down the most lucrative offer in Everton’s history was heading for his boyhood club Chelsea to replace an ‘unwanted’ Diego Costa when Manchester United stepped in to make him their second signing in the transfer window.

Lukaku to United looks an acquisition that is likely to split opinions among the club’s faithful not only because of what is an astronomical sign-on fee but also because he may not be seen as the kind of marquee striker that the club needs to replace the injured and departing Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Lukaku’s pedigree as a top finisher is unquestionable as his records in the colours of Everton show. He has averaged a tally of twenty goals per season over the last three seasons and is a physical presence who not only has the pace and power to trouble defences but can hold up play and bring other players into the game. It is however, his inability to score consistently against the big sides that his sceptics will point to. He managed 21 goals against the bottom 13 teams in the Premier League last season but has been less than prolific against teams like Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Manchester United.

There is no secret that Mourinho’s preference at the close of the just concluded season, was to do his business early and bring in preferred targets before the club embarks on a pre-season tour to the United States. Atletico Madrid’s Antoinne Griezmann was the initial favourite to complement an attack that lacked a cutting edge. United managed a haul of 54 league goals – their lowest return since the Premier League began in 1992.

A Court of Arbitration ban on Atletico meant that the Frenchman could not leave his beloved Spanish side in a lurch, so United altered their plans and made Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata the No 1 target. Morata who had been consigned to a bit-part role in the Real team seemed all too willing to join a side that had promised to give him regular football but neither the player nor United could have anticipated Florentino Perez's intransigence. For United, the process of quibbling over a player who clearly wanted to join them must have become a bit like wadding through treacle and in the end their patience wore thin enough for them to look elsewhere.

Part of the pantomime that is football is that grudges don't last forever. Lukaku who had left Chelsea under a cloud after he was sold by Mourinho for £28 million in 2014, was believed to have favoured a return to his previous club rather than United because of the visceral history between him and the Portuguese manager but if his comments at the conclusion of his medicals in Los Angeles is anything to go by, then we have to conclude that whatever differences the manager and player had at Chelsea is all water under the bridge now.

Lukaku's price tag and arrival at United will surely place him under a huge glare and the scrutiny will no doubt get far more intense as the season progresses especially, if he fails to produce the goods in his first few games for the club. He does however, have the broad shoulders of friend and now teammate Paul Pogba to lean on as he navigates the slopes of playing for a world class team.

For Manchester United fans, questions surrounding his suitability will probably rage beyond the end of the transfer window and deep into the new season but for a more pragmatic Mourinho, the question will be whether his latest exotic import can help the team dislodge last season's established order.

… and Rooney begins a new chapter

Meanwhile, United's revolving door sees the club captain and record goalscorer head in the other direction. Wayne Rooney put pen to paper for Everton in what is surely an emotional return for a player who left the club 13 years ago.

Rooney who made only 25 appearances and 15 starts for the Red Devils last season leaves on a free transfer to sign a two-year deal for Everton. The striker is likely to see the chance to play for his boyhood club as a new chapter and perhaps a chance to put himself firmly back into the frame of the national team in a World Cup year.

There's no doubt that at United, the player will be remembered fondly but one has to wonder if this has not been an ill-advised move by United to let a player who could still have a significant impact in the dressing room leave for an ambitious team like Everton. Daffodils may not be planted outside Old Trafford to mark Rooney's departure but there is a sense that a few tears may be shed even if some are only in emoji's.


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