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Tuesday 25 July 2017

Lukaku can tip scales but blues could do better

Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku at squad training in LA. Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku at squad training in LA. Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson

Forget the crazy £75m fee Manchester United paid to sign Romelu Lukaku from Everton - this transfer may end up looking like a shrewd move.

Once again and very sadly, the biggest winner appears to be Lukaku's agent, who continues to drain huge amounts of money from the game for setting up these big deals with United.

Mino Raiola was the agent that finalised moves for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to join United last summer, with some reports suggesting he made as much as £40m from those deals.

Now they say he is picking up another £10m after encouraging his client to pick United over Chelsea. With the money going out of football and into his bank account, it is a little hard to accept.

From a sporting perspective, this looks like a deal that could reap rewards for both the buying and selling club, even if I don't believe Lukaku is a player worthy of the hype around him.

Missing

He is a proven Premier League goal scorer, but he tends to go missing more often than not when he comes up against the better teams.

Lukaku needs service and he is not the kind of player who will chase down balls and put in the hard graft for the good of the team when they need to fight for a result.

United manager Jose Mourinho tends to like his players to work tirelessly from first minute to last and Lukaku does not strike me as the kind of striker who will do that.

However, he does fit the mould of a Mourinho striker for several other reasons.

He is a little like Didier Drogba, the marksman who gave Chelsea their DNA during Mourinho's first spell at Stamford Bridge.

While he could not be described as a long-ball manager - even though Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp suggested he was just that on two occasions last season - Mourinho likes a central striker who offers his side a physical presence.

He had that with Drogba at Chelsea and Zlatan Ibrahimovic filled the role to great effect at United last season. Now he has a young, hungry, powerful forward he hopes will do the same.

Lukaku is also prolific against the lesser teams in the Premier League and if you look at United's biggest problem area last season, it came against teams intent on sitting deep and playing for a draw at Old Trafford. Time and again, United failed to break them down and drew far too many games, so Mourinho will look to Lukaku to bash down a few doors and turn those draws into wins.

He is a decent player and while he is clearly not even close to being worth £75m, that is the going rate for a striker who will score you 20 Premier League goals in this crazy transfer market.

From United's perspective, this Lukaku deal could end up looking like money well spent, while Everton may also feel they have done well out of this transfer.

You sense there is a real air of excitement among Everton fans after a summer when they have already spent the money they will get from the Lukaku sale on a host of new players and credit to them, they have handled this issue well.

I'm sure everyone at Goodison Park knew Lukaku was going, so they got some of their signings in early and have created a real buzz around the club. Selling their star player has almost seemed to be irrelevant.

Struggling

As a Liverpool man, I don't want to sound patronising by saying Everton have signed second or third rate players this summer, but that is the reality.

The top clubs are struggling to sign the players they want because they all targeted A-list performers and rival clubs don't want to sell or the prices are sky rocketing.

What Everton have done is snap up some good quality players, paid a little over the odds for some of them, and given their fans hope that they are moving forward despite the departure of Lukaku.

Now they need to start spending again, as the money from Lukaku's sale has virtually balanced their books from their recruitment drive.

If they now go out and sign Arsenal striker Oliver Giroud and Swansea midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson, I would say they have come out of the Lukaku deal with a better team than they had when he was in it.

Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane, Davy Klasasen and Wayne Rooney are all decent signings for Everton, but I still think they will struggle to crack the top six in the Premier League in a season when they will burdened by Europa League commitments.

As this Lukaku deal and the Everton transfer confirm once again, you need to pay over the odds to get the players you want in this transfer window.

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