LONDON • Manchester United believe they are on the verge of agreeing a deal to sign Romelu Lukaku from Everton for an initial payment of £75 million (S$134.4 million).
But senior officials at Everton maintained yesterday that no such transfer has been finalised.
Nevertheless, the expectation remains that the Belgium striker will become a United player soon.
The mooted fee is lower than expected, especially in this inflated market, but Everton will accrue bonus-related add-ons should Lukaku excel.
The deal is running independent of Everton's interest in United captain Wayne Rooney, but the goodwill between the clubs will nevertheless help smooth the English forward's return to Goodison Park by the weekend.
United's first pitch to Everton was inclusive of a deal for Rooney.
United say they have dropped their interest in Real Madrid's Alvaro Morata as a result of securing Lukaku, who was manager Jose Mourinho's first choice to bolster his attack.
LUKAKU IN NUMBERS
Premier League goals since his Everton debut in September 2013, only Sergio Aguero (86) and Harry Kane (78) have more.
He is one of only three players to have scored 10 or more goals in each of the last five Premier League seasons (alongside Olivier Giroud and Aguero).
Shot conversion rate in the Premier League last season - higher than Manchester United's Zlatan Ibrahimovic (14.8 per cent), Marcus Rashford (11.4 per cent), Wayne Rooney (9.6 per cent), Anthony Martial (9.5 per cent).
Ed Woodward, United's chief executive, has been leading the negotiations with Everton and the sense of satisfaction at recruiting the 24-year-old will be magnified by the prospect of beating off interest from Chelsea.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte's troubled relationship with his board is likely to become further strained with Lukaku seemingly rejecting the chance to return to Stamford Bridge three years after moving from there to Everton in a £28 million deal.
Mourinho was in charge of Chelsea when the sale of Lukaku was sanctioned, but the forward has previously explained that he pleaded to be allowed to move and has spoken reverentially of their relationship.
Chelsea, who have been unable as yet to offload Diego Costa, must now decide whether or not to table their own counter-offer to Everton for Lukaku.
Reports in Belgium have suggested that Conte has spoken to the Everton forward over recent weeks, outlining where he sees the Belgian in his first-team plans and stressing Lukaku's significance to the side's approach.
The Italian had envisaged the deal being completed before his squad return for pre-season training on Monday.
Lukaku was due back for pre-season training at Everton yesterday, but has remained on holiday in Los Angeles, with the club's permission, along with friend and prospective United team-mate Paul Pogba.
United fly to the city on Sunday as they begin a three-week tour and so there is the likelihood of Lukaku having a medical examination in the United States before finalising personal terms in the region of £200,000 a week.
He would be United's second summer signing after the arrival of Benfica's Swedish centre-back Victor Lindelof for £31 million.
Mourinho had become frustrated with the lack of progress on signings, as he said earlier in the summer that he wanted as many new arrivals in place before they set off for their pre-season tour.
THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN