Thursday 23 May 2019

Lukaku may be first to leave United in 'ruthless' overhaul

Romelu Lukaku. Photo: Getty Images
Romelu Lukaku. Photo: Getty Images

James Ducker

Manchester United are prepared to listen to offers for Romelu Lukaku this summer.

The Belgium striker is open to a move away and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is gearing up for what he has promised will be a "ruthless" overhaul. Lukaku could be one of those who makes way if the subject of an acceptable bid.

Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich are believed to be among the clubs who have been sounded out about the striker.

Federico Pastorello, Lukaku's representative, appeared to be putting the player in the shop window when he admitted in a television interview this month that his client's future was "very open", a move to Italy appealed and that the Belgian was "someone who loves to know a different culture, a different football". Lukaku himself talked up the prospect of playing in Italy last October.

Antonio Conte has been linked with Inter and Juventus and it is thought the former Chelsea manager, who is also represented by Pastorello, would be interested in signing Lukaku if he landed either of those jobs.

Conte missed out on Lukaku when he chose United over Chelsea in 2017 following an initial £75 million move from Everton, who stand to net an extra £5m windfall under the terms of that deal if the striker leaves Old Trafford this summer. Lukaku is due to face his former club at Goodison Park tomorrow and wants to be a regular starter.

But he has fallen behind Marcus Rashford as United's first-choice centre-forward since Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho and there remain doubts over whether his playing style fits with the blueprint of the way the manager wants to play going forward. If Lukaku left, Solskjaer could use the proceeds to reinvest in new signings in what is set to be a very busy summer at Old Trafford.

Yet the biggest obstacle to a sale for potential suitors would be the size of the transfer fee involved, combined with the player's wages. Lukaku earns £255,000 a week at United, who would want to recoup their outlay on the 25-year-old.

United are also open to offers for Alexis Sanchez, but the Chile -striker's £$500,000-a-week wages will make a sale difficult.

Solskjaer has made it clear he intends to act ruthlessly this summer. Antonio Valencia, Matteo Darmian, Marcos Rojo, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata are among those likely or expected to go. There is also uncertainty over Eric Bailly and goalkeeper David De Gea, who is approaching the final year of his contract. Only a week after warning of a "survival of the best" cull, Solskjaer delivered a blunt appraisal of United's current troubles by admitting there are players in need of a "reality check".

The 3-0 humbling by Barcelona was United's fifth defeat in seven matches and, with the club two points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal, victory over Everton appears critical to their top-four hopes with Manchester City and Chelsea to face at Old Trafford next week.

Asked if he had learnt more about his players during this dismal recent run, Solskjaer said: "I'm not sure about that. I've learnt a lot about them over the months I've been here now and you get to know them. Most of them have really impressed in their attitude. Of course, there's some who need to get a reality check on where they're at."

© Daily Telegraph, London

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