Former Red Devils slam Lukaku as striker signs for Inter

Romelu Lukaku has signed a five-year deal with Inter Milan after passing his medical examination yesterday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Romelu Lukaku has signed a five-year deal with Inter Milan after passing his medical examination yesterday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON • Even as Romelu Lukaku completed his move to Inter Milan yesterday for a reported £73 million (S$122.5 million), former Manchester United players Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs had one last dig at the striker.

The Belgium international was given a rapturous welcome from hundreds of fans at an airport in Milan, which went viral on social media, as he arrived ahead of his medical examination, and the Italian Serie A club later confirmed the move on Twitter.

In a video interview, Lukaku, who inked a five-year deal, said Inter "is not for everyone and that's why I'm here".

However, his departure elicited only sighs of relief at Old Trafford despite United not signing a replacement.

While he scored 15 goals in all competitions last season and 27 the term before, Lukaku was a polarising figure in his two years at United, with his poor first touch, lack of mobility and weight issues causing consternation among the fans.

That was why manager of the England women's national football team and former United defender Phil Neville insisted there would be no hankering after him.

He told local daily the Manchester Evening News yesterday: "I never felt as if he was a United centre forward. That was my feeling.

  • 24 years 

    322 days 

    Romelu Lukaku was the fifth-youngest player to reach 100 goals in the Premier League and the youngest non-English player to do so. He did it in his first Manchester United season, when he scored 16, and added 12 last term.

"He started well, then obviously he lost a little bit of confidence and then found it difficult to get back up to form.

"There was always that feeling of 'was he fit enough?' And was his style suited to playing football for Manchester United? That was my question.

"He'll always score goals wherever he goes. He'll score goals for Inter Milan. But the way you want to play, you've got to fit the right people on the bus and Romelu Lukaku was never that person."

Scholes agreed with his former teammate that the 26-year-old was "not suited to" the way United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sets up his attack.

He added: "Ole wants someone with a bit of energy, a bit of speed, someone who is going to work hard."

Wales manager Giggs also felt that in Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and rising youngster Mason Greenwood, the Red Devils would have enough offensive options to make up for Lukaku's goals.

"He is not the sort of player who can come in and out. He is a player who starts and plays all the games, and he will score goals, but he is not a player to come in and out," he said. "Ole has looked at that and Lukaku has looked at that.

"Over the years, players have wanted to leave, it's not anything new. It is more highlighted now because United aren't doing as well as they did 10-15 years ago."

As of press time yesterday, Tottenham were set to be the busiest club as the English transfer window closed, after completing the signing of 19-year-old Fulham winger Ryan Sessegnon on a five-year deal, local media reported yesterday.

They are also hoping to bring in Real Betis' Argentinian midfielder Giovani Lo Celso but the deal for Juventus forward Paulo Dybala collapsed over image rights.

Spurs have earlier signed France midfielder Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon for a club-record £55 million, their first addition after becoming the only club in EPL history not to have signed a player in the past two transfer windows.

Across the north London divide, Arsenal were also active as moves for Celtic defender Kieran Tierney and Brazil defender David Luiz from Chelsea neared completion.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2019, with the headline 'Former Red Devils slam Lukaku as striker signs for Inter'. Print Edition | Subscribe