United have announce that they have reached an agreement to sign 24 year old Romelu Lukaku from Everton subject to agreement regarding personal terms and the player passing a medical. The signing comes just in advance of the squads departure on a pre-season tour to the states and is United’s second major signing of the summer after the earlier arrival of defender Victor Lindelof. Lukaku is already in LA and it is expected that the player will have his medical there before joining up with the tour squad.
There had been some speculation that United might be interested in signing the Belgian centre forward towards the end of last season but it was widely believed recently that he was on his way to Chelsea. Most of the attention in recent weeks regarding United’s search for a replacement for Zlatan Ibrahimovic was on the Spanish striker Alvaro Morata. Real Madrid were playing hard ball in respect of Morata’s fee which is no surprise given the rather strained relationship between United and the Spaniards in recent years; have United reverted to a bid for Lukaku because of this factor or were they really always interested in the Everton forward?
The transfer is a surprise because the attention has been elsewhere, not because of the nature of the player; Lukaku fits the exact profile of the type of forward Jose Mourinho tends to favour.
Lukaku was the Premier League second highest goal scorer last season scoring 25 league goals so is proven in our domestic league. He is a big strong powerful and quick player who can be played in any variety of strategies including as a single striker, which is the usual strategy that Mourinho favours. Lukaku can lead the line in either a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 and crucially can provide the mobility that United lacked in a line leader last year. Alternatively Lukaku could operate as one of a pair of central forwards perhaps with Rashford or Martial. Mourinho chose to play with two quick mobile front players several times last year of course as a challenge to in vogue 3 at the back defensive strategy.
Lukaku is good at working a forward line and will make runs either in behind or across the line; often diagonally into the channels. The challenge to other United players then is to work the spaces this creates or pick him out with passes into the path of his runs; he is especially known for runs to drag central defenders into wide areas, other players will need to use that. He is also strong running with the ball and in the air.
There has been a focus over the last year or so on chances missed by Romelu Lukaku, especially in big games. United aren’t scoring enough goals at the moment and the player might not be the only forward signed this summer but Lukaku’s game isn’t just about goals; his record on chances created for other is also very good. He certainly shouldn’t be expected to solve this problem on his own.
Nevertheless we say Romelu Lukaku, welcome to Old Trafford.