REJECT TORESCUER; MAN UNITED BEAT CHELSEA IN LUKAKU RACE Bombed out of Chelsea by Mourinho, PS75m striker Lukaku is now charged with firing Jose's Reds to Prem and CL glory.
REJECTED by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, Romelu Lukaku is now the man the Special One believes can revive Manchester United.
The striker's imminent PS75million move from Everton will hand the hugelyconfident Belgium star the stage that he has always believed he belonged upon.
When Mourinho returned to Stamford Bridge for his second spell, he sold Lukaku to Everton because he wanted a forward he could rely on to deliver the goals to win the title, bringing in Diego Costa to fill that role.
The manager considered Lukaku dispensable back then, but the 24-year-old has now emerged as the goal-getter to fill the gaping void left by United's loss of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
In three years at Goodison, Lukaku (playing for Everton, left) has evolved into the archetypal Mourinho striker, a belligerent, physical presence up front with a clinical finish and the necessary edge to kill off opponents.
His 26 goals last term were conclusive proof of that. At his very best, when surging past opponents as if they were not there, he is close to unplayable, as defenders throughout the Premier League will testify. But while Lukaku has shone at Everton, he will need to raise his level even more at United, where the scrutiny is unremitting and the expectations much higher.
He will not be afforded the luxury of disappearing in certain games, as he has done in the past.
At United, turning it on when it takes your fancy is not an option at the biggest club in the world.
Indeed, at Old Trafford last season, Lukaku clashed with Everton team-mate Ashley Williams after the latter made it clear he felt the frontman was not making enough of an effort for his side.
Such an attitude will not be tolerated by Mourinho, who clearly feels Lukaku has matured sufficiently as a player and person to handle the responsibility of leading the attack at a club of United's stature.
Lukaku could certainly never be accused of lacking self-confidence, declaring last season he would not sign a contract extension at Everton because he had outgrown the Merseyside club and was destined for better things.
Now he has the chance to show he belongs at that higher level, playing in the Champions League and competing for the title, he will be expected to deliver straight away.
Ibrahimovic bagged 28 goals in his debut season at United, before injury brought his campaign to a premature end, and Mourinho will expect a similar return from Lukaku, starting at home to West Ham on August 13.
Despite Ibrahimovic's impressive haul, United's wretched conversion rate - they managed just 54 goals in the league - cost them dearly and Lukaku will be expected to remedy that debilitating ailment.
United's capture of the big Belgian at the expense of Chelsea, who were convinced he was returning to them this summer, is a major coup for the Reds, in particular executive vicechairman Ed Woodward. Boss Mourinho was said to be frustrated at Woodward's failure to close out more deals, with only defender Victor Lindelof having joined, as United head off to the US on Sunday for the start of their pre-season tour.
But by quietly pursuing Lukaku, while publicly courting Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata, in whom they are no longer interested now they have secured their No.1 target, United pulled the rug right out from under the west Londoners' feet.
Now, having pulled off the transfer of the summer, United must ensure Lukaku delivers and can produce the goals to fire them back into the title mix and bring Champions League success.
ROMELU LUKAKU Born: Antwerp Age: 24 Height: 6ft 3ins P Gls Anderlecht (2009-11) 98 41 Chelsea (2011-14) 15 0 West Brom (loan 2012-13) 38 17 Everton (2013-17) 166 87 Belgium 57 20
LUK WHO'S LEAVING Our back page yesterday
BACK TO THE FUTURE Lukaku& Mourinho at Chelsea in 2013, and (right) how he will look playing for Jose at United next term
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Jul 7, 2017|
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