Saturday 22 July 2017

Lukaku will be a success at 'biggest club' - Mourinho

Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku take a breather during training in Los Angeles yesterday. Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku take a breather during training in Los Angeles yesterday. Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

James Ducker

Jose Mourinho has playfully taunted Chelsea by claiming Romelu Lukaku joined Manchester United because he wanted to move to the biggest club in England.

United finally announced the signing of Lukaku on a five-year contract from Everton yesterday - an hour before he trained with his new team-mates for the first time in Los Angeles - in a deal that could make the Belgium striker the world's most expensive player.

Everton will receive an initial £75m and the fee could rise to £90m, which would eclipse the world record £89m United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba last summer.

The add-ons will be paid in two tranches depending on the success of Lukaku, who has the option of a sixth year in his contract and will wear the No 9 shirt vacated by Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Target

Lukaku was Chelsea's leading summer transfer target but the Premier League champions were left blindsided by United's move and Mourinho could not resist a cheeky dig by claiming the allure of playing for the country's biggest club was an influential factor for the player he sold to Everton as Chelsea manager in 2014.

"Romelu is a natural fit for Manchester United," Mourinho said. "He is a big personality and a big player. It is only natural that he wants to develop his career at the biggest club.

"He will be a great addition to the group and I know they will make him very welcome. I am really looking forward to working with him again."

United arrived in LA on Sunday night for the first leg of their 18-day pre-season tour of the USA and held their first training session at UCLA's Drake Stadium 24 hours later, when Lukaku was put through his paces alongside friend Paul Pogba, whom he admitted had played a significant role in persuading him to move to Old Trafford.

Lukaku (24) who could make his United debut against LA Galaxy at the StubHub Centre in the early hours on Sunday, believes the stage is set for him to catapult his game to the next level.

"I am at the age where I have to make the next step and this club is there to help me but I am a team player and I want to win trophies," Lukaku said.

"I want to score as many goals as I can, become a better player, work hard on a daily basis, work harder than I did before and just move (forward) constantly. I don't want to have time to become complacent.

"The history and the players who played for the club, the way that the club is always hungry to win trophies, it's something that I want. When a club like Manchester United comes and asks you to play for them, you don't say no."

Lukaku claims he was considering a move to United last season after watching how Pogba progressed and says he asked permission from Ibrahimovic to take the No 9 shirt the Swede vacated after he left the club last month following injury.

"It's been a big role (from Pogba). He is one of my best friends and my neighbour, too, so we are together on a daily basis.

"What we (Pogba and I) have is because everything is natural. People think it's made up, but it's not. We gel well. Pogba is the fire and I am the water.

Explaining why he will wear the number nine shirt for United, Lukaku said: "I always asked my mother what number (to choose) and I used to play with the 10 because my mother's birthday is on the 10th of October and it's the 10th month of the year. But I asked for the number nine at United because I'm a striker. Strikers play with No 9.

Meanwhile, reports in Italy claim United have made an improved third bid of around €45m for Ivan Perisic, but Inter Milan are said to be holding out for €55m for the Croatian, who joined his Inter team-mates for training yesterday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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