Football: Jose Mourinho link-up a big draw: Romelu Lukaku

Everton striker Romelu Lukaku is on the verge of a world-record S$178 million transfer to Manchester United.
Everton striker Romelu Lukaku is on the verge of a world-record S$178 million transfer to Manchester United.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Forward Wayne Rooney is all smiles after sealing his return to boyhood club Everton on a two-year deal.
Forward Wayne Rooney is all smiles after sealing his return to boyhood club Everton on a two-year deal.PHOTO: TWITTER/ WAYNEROONEY

United to pay $178m for Everton striker; Rooney in Goodison Park homecoming

LONDON • Romelu Lukaku has said the lure of working with Jose Mourinho again was pivotal in his decision to move to Manchester United and believes the Portuguese recognises the development in the striker's career.

The Belgian emphasised yesterday that the duo have a good relationship and said he has already been in contact with Mourinho as he puts the finishing touches on his potential world-record £100 million (S$178 million) switch from Everton to United.

Mourinho worked with Lukaku at Chelsea, but allowed him to join Everton on loan and then permanently in 2014 to fuel perceptions that he did not rate the forward highly.

However, it was Lukaku who pushed to leave Stamford Bridge at the time in order to further his career and the player insists Mourinho will see how a "young kid" has now become a "grown man".

"(Mourinho is) a guy who I wanted to play for since I was ten years old, so now to have the opportunity to work under him again is great," said Lukaku, who underwent a medical examination in Los Angeles yesterday to seal his transfer.

"We've been in contact. He explained to me how the club was like, what he expects from me.

IN LEAPS AND BOUNDS

He (Mourinho) sees the maturity that has grown throughout the years... I think he wants to improve me, make me a better player than I am today, which is good. I always want to improve.

ROMELU LUKAKU, Belgian international striker, believes he has developed as a centre-forward since leaving Chelsea .

"You know, we were together under different circumstances. Obviously, the first time when I met him, I was still a young kid, and I was eager to play. And he understood my decision why I left at the time. I returned on the pitch.

"Now I'm 24. I'm a grown man. He sees the maturity that has grown throughout the years, so I'm really thankful for the opportunity he gave me again. I think he wants to improve me, make me a better player than I am today, which is good. I always want to improve."

United have negotiated a £100 million package for the 24-year-old, paying an initial £75 million with £15 million in add-ons.

In addition, they have waived a transfer fee for Wayne Rooney, who rejoined Everton yesterday and was valued at £10 million.

Mourinho was set to fly to Los Angeles yesterday for the start of a three-week pre-season tour and, in an interview with ESPN, Lukaku said he simply could not reject interest from the "biggest club in the world" as he snubbed Chelsea's attempts to re-sign him.

"When (United) came calling, I didn't have to think twice... My mind was already set. I gave my word and I don't look back .

"I was already mentally preparing to be part of the team. I would say, 'Who would say 'no' to the biggest club in the world?'," he said.

Lukaku has been holidaying in America with United midfielder Paul Pogba and explained how his new team-mate had been influential in shaping his thinking.

"I've been talking to him for about seven or eight years. And now he's living in Manchester," Lukaku said. "I live in Manchester.

"He was explaining to me how it went at the club, and it triggered something in my head. When the opportunity came, I didn't have to think twice. I'm really excited."

The deal comes as it emerged Lukaku was arrested by Beverly Hills police on July 2 and is due to appear in court on Oct 2.

The Belgium forward was given a "misdemeanour citation" after police officers had previously given him five verbal warnings following complaints of noise at the house he was staying in while on holiday in Los Angeles.

Rooney yesterday confirmed that he has rejoined Everton after 13 years at United where he has signed a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee.

"I have come back to Everton because I believe (manager) Ronald Koeman is building a team that can win something and I look forward to playing my part in making that a reality for the club I have supported since a boy," he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2017, with the headline 'Jose link-up a big draw: Lukaku'. Print Edition | Subscribe