Monday 26 February 2018

Phil Neville warns Romelu Lukaku over increased scrutiny he faces at United

Romelu Lukaku scored 25 league goals for Everton last season
Romelu Lukaku scored 25 league goals for Everton last season

Romelu Lukaku has been warned that all aspects of his life will come under more scrutiny now that he has signed for Manchester United.

The Belgium international completed his big-money move to Old Trafford from Everton last week and now former United and Toffees full-back Phil Neville has offered the 24-year-old some guidance on the added pressures of playing for the reigning Europa League winners.

Despite being linked with a return to Chelsea for much of the summer, Lukaku ended up joining Jose Mourinho in Manchester for a fee believed to be £75million.

The signing, and the money involved, has already been questioned by some even though Lukaku has a proven record for scoring goals in the Premier League.

While the last details of his transfer were being agreed, news came from the United States that Lukaku would face court action over "excessive noise" at a residence in Beverly Hills.

Lukaku was holidaying in Los Angeles, along with new United team-mate and close friend Paul Pogba, when he was arrested on July 2 after being given verbal warnings by officers.

And it is away from the pitch where Neville believes the former Anderlecht youngster will notice the most change.

"He will realise that he has left a great club in Everton, I played there for eight years, but he has gone to United now and the scrutiny will be there on and off the pitch," he said.

"Off just as much as on; how he portrays himself on social media, what he does on the training ground - we saw earlier in the week one bad pass in training and the whole of the English press were poking fun at him.

"That is the scrutiny he is under, he is playing for a club where the pressure is probably greater than ever, far greater than when I played, the expectation level is far greater than when I played and the pressure is definitely.

"He has been bought to win the Premier League for Manchester United, they haven't done it since Sir Alex Ferguson left so every year that goes by that is more pressure added on to the players that are there."

Neville, talking at the Star Sixes tournament at London's o2, reckons Lukaku does still have something to prove despite the sizeable price-tag as he gets set to make his United bow in Sunday's friendly against LA Galaxy.

"It caught me by surprise, the move, everyone was fixated on (Real Madrid striker) Alvaro Morata," he said.

"Morata was going to United and Lukaku going to Chelsea. Maybe it was a smokescreen or United acting fast if the Morata deal fell through, it is good business.

"They have signed a player with vast potential but he has a lot to prove. Sometimes when you spend £75million on a player you get the finished article but I think with both Paul Pogba and Lukaku, United haven't bought the finished article and they have got players who have a lot to prove.

"Romelu has scored goals in the last four seasons, for West Brom and Everton, they are buying someone who scores goals in this league, that is guaranteed. But they are also buying someone who has the ability to improve and needs to show it on a bigger stage.

"For the last 12 months he has probably told everybody he wants to play on the biggest stage, well he is now playing on the biggest stage and it is time to deliver."

Lukaku was Mourinho's second summer recruit following the earlier arrival of Sweden international defender Victor Lindelof.

Neville, who won six Premier League titles during his time at Old Trafford, believes there may be more to come as United look to improve on their sixth-placed finish last year.

"I don't think that will be it," he added when asked if Mourinho will still be wanting further additions.

"There are probably two or three more players that Jose wants, but it is always nice to get one or two signings under your belt, you look at the clubs that sign players early on, it puts pressure on those clubs that haven't.

"Jose is the sort that he always wants his players at the start of pre-season, signed, sealed and settled. It doesn't always work out that way but that has been the general rule of Mourinho.

"He has two in Lindelof and Lukaku and I think two more will come in, I wouldn't be surprised if they signed another centre forward because goals last season probably cost them challenging for the Premier League.

"They had a brilliant season last year but ultimately the Premier League is the be-all and end-all."

Press Association

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