Rooney key to Lukaku transfer

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney.
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney. PHOTO: REUTERS

His valuation pushes United's offer to the £100m Everton want; Chelsea's late bid futile

LONDON • Manchester United announced yesterday that a fee has been agreed with Everton for the transfer of striker Romelu Lukaku, subject to a medical test and personal terms.

United believe they have deflected Chelsea's frantic attempts to hijack the Belgian's proposed move to Old Trafford and are set to wrap up the deal valued at £100 million (S$178.16 million), which would incorporate Wayne Rooney's return to Goodison Park.

"Manchester United is delighted to announce that it has agreed a fee with Everton for the transfer of Romelu Lukaku," read a club statement yesterday morning.

Lukaku has been on holiday in Los Angeles with his friend and United midfielder Paul Pogba. He is expected to meet up with his other new team-mates in the city today when they touch down to begin a five-match pre-season tour of the United States.

The deal will be worth an initial £75 million plus a further £15 million of easily attainable add-ons linked to achievements and appearances. Rooney, who is valued at around £10 million, would also return to Merseyside after a glittering 13-year career at United, increasing the whole value of the deal on the table to nine figures.

Chelsea had tabled their own offer for Lukaku's services on Friday, seeking to re-sign a player they had sold for £28 million in 2014.

Yet, while the English Premier League champions felt their proposal was roughly equivalent to that on offer from Old Trafford, Everton disagreed, with the Rooney element complicating the process.

While United's record scorer (253 goals) was never formally considered to be returning to Goodison Park in part-exchange, his valuation had in effect been built into the Lukaku deal, pushing the overall value of United's offer to the £100 million Everton had always been seeking for the 24-year-old striker.

Chelsea could not provide the same Rooney element in their own proposal and were clearly unwilling to inflate their bid to meet Everton's overall valuation.

Even by Friday night, however, Chelsea had feared Lukaku's representative, Mino Raiola, was intent on pushing his client towards Old Trafford, where he successfully moved Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic last summer.

The Blues, when submitting their bid, had indicated they were unprepared to match the agent fee - apparently amounting to eight figures - on offer to Raiola from United.

When the Lukaku deal is finally concluded, United are also ready to test Tottenham Hotspur's resolve over Eric Dier by making a renewed effort to sign him.

They have had one bid turned down and with Spurs adamant the 23-year-old defensive midfielder is not for sale, it appeared manager Jose Mourinho had moved on to other targets, including Chelsea's Nemanja Matic.

But with United poised to sign Lukaku from under Chelsea's noses, it is unlikely they would sanction Matic's move to Old Trafford.

As a result, United are considering a further push for Dier and a bid of about £50 million may change Spurs' thinking, especially with the cost of building their new stadium rocketing to £800 million.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 09, 2017, with the headline 'Rooney key to Lukaku transfer'. Print Edition | Subscribe