Thursday 18 July 2019

Lukaku hints at exit as Inter wait in wings

Lukaku:
Lukaku: "I’ve had a difficult season at club level. I lost my place and haven’t played much." Photo: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

James Ducker

Romelu Lukaku has given the clearest indication yet that he wants to leave Manchester United this summer, as the Belgium striker is reluctant to play a back-up role to Marcus Rashford next season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the United manager, has indicated that Rashford is his first-choice centre-forward and Lukaku, 26, is wary of reduced playing time as he enters what he believes will be the peak years of his career.

Antonio Conte, the new coach of Inter Milan, is determined to take Lukaku to Italy, having missed out on the Belgium striker in 2017, when he opted to join United over Chelsea.

The pair share an agent, Federico Pastorello, and hope a deal can be reached, although United are not prepared to lose Lukaku cheaply and would want to recoup their £80 million (€90m) investment in order to sanction a sale.

Windfall

Everton are also due an additional £5m (€5.6m) windfall if the player is sold this summer.

Lukaku has never entirely won over United supporters, but he remains a proven goalscorer and netted twice in Belgium's 3-0 win over Scotland on Tuesday to take his tally to 25 goals in his past 21 international appearances.

Belgium supporters unfurled banners in honour of Lukaku that read: "26 years old... already a legend".

Speaking after the game, Lukaku again hinted at a move from Old Trafford.

"I'll speak with my club and my agent Federico Pastorello to make the best decision," he said. "I am going to enjoy my holidays with my family now. I know what I'll do, but won't say it. We'll see. Do I expect a busy summer? Yes.

"I've had a difficult season at club level. I lost my place and haven't played much. But that is a phase in my career and it will help me for the next step."

United completed the signing of Wales winger Daniel James from Swansea City yesterday, subject to international clearance, but Solskjaer remains in the market for another right-sided forward.

United will pay an initial £15 million rising to £18 million for James, who has signed a five-year contract until June 2024, with the option of another 12 months.

"Daniel is an exciting young winger with lots of skills, vision, exceptional pace and a good work ethic," Solskjaer said. "He had a great season with Swansea City and has all the attributes needed." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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