Romelu Lukaku: A Suitable Replacement for Ibrahimovic?

Manchester United have officially unveiled Romelu Lukaku as their latest summer signing.

The now former Everton striker was signed for reported fee of £75m, a figure which could eventually rise to £90m including add-ons.

A five-year deal was signed as the Red Devils snatched the player from under the noses of his former club Chelsea.


Unexpected turn of events

In a remarkable turn of events, Lukaku had looked set to return to Chelsea, with the Londoners reportedly looking to re-sign the striker as a replacement for Diego Costa, who has recently been linked with moves to China, as well as his former club Atletico Madrid, despite the Spanish club’s transfer ban.

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte had reportedly become frustrated at the thought of missing out on a return to Stamford Bridge for Lukaku, who was said to be one of his leading targets with Costa on the verge of departing the club.

The Blues matched United’s offer of £75m in a last-ditch attempt to persuade their former striker to rejoin the club, but it appeared to be too little too late as Lukaku eventually snubbed a return to London, instead opting for a move to Old Trafford.


Going from strength to strength at Everton

Lukaku, who plies his trade internationally with Belgium, had been at Goodison Park since 2013.

The Toffees then signed him permanently from Chelsea in a £28m deal ahead of the 2014-15 league campaign having undergone a successful loan period with them in the 2013-14 season, his second loan spell away from Chelsea having spent a season at Premier League club West Bromwich Albion.

The towering Belgian was eventually sold by then Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who was seen as surplus to requirements by the Stamford Bridge club. Lukaku was signed in 2011 from Belgian club Anderlecht, however found first team opportunities hard to come by, having only made 10 appearances for the club in a three-year spell.

Having gone from strength to strength since his move to Merseyside, Lukaku now links up with his former boss at Old Trafford, with club legend Wayne Rooney having moved in the opposite direction to rejoin his former club.


Fills a much-needed position

The Red Devils look set to continue their summer spending after the acquisition of Swedish defender Victor Lindelöf from Benfica. Jose Mourinho presented a list of targets to the club’s Chief Executive Ed Woodward at the end of last season and one of his biggest priorities is bolstering his forward line.

United suffered a frustrating number of home draws which saw them obtain a sixth-place finish in the league, although the season ended in relative success with a League Cup and Europa League win for the Portuguese boss, achieving his goal of gaining entry to Europe’s elite cup competition the UEFA Champions League in the 2017-18 season.

United had been in the market for a new striker after releasing Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimović at the end of the 2016-17 season, having seen the striker ruled out with a long-term injury. The Old Trafford club took the decision to not renew his contract despite a remarkable season, scoring 17 goals in 28 appearances.

Many thought the striker, who turned 35 in October, would struggle to cope with the demands of the Premier League, but he certainly proved his doubters wrong, despite cruelly ending his season early.

The former PSG attacker sustained serious ligament damage whilst playing the Europa League against Anderlecht on the 20th April, and was forced to remain on the sidelines for the rest of the campaign.


Wise acquisition

United were said to be close to sealing the signature of Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata, who had often played second fiddle to Karim Benzema throughout last season since returning to the Bernabeu from Juventus.

The current European champions stood their ground in their valuation of the striker, however, and United were said to be unwilling to meet the Spanish club’s demands having seen more than one offer declined.

United eventually changed tactics and decided to go for a striker who is a proven goalscorer in the Premier League, and that could prove to be a wise decision.

With the move now set in stone, Lukaku will don the recently vacated number 9 shirt at Old Trafford come next season, and will link up with his new teammates who are currently on a Pre-season tour of the USA.

The powerful forward certainly has big boots to fill with the recent departure of Zlatan Ibrahimović, however, has all the right attributes to be a success at Old Trafford now his move has materialised.


Written by Cristian Fry

Follow Cristian on Twitter @CristianF99

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