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Wednesday 20 November 2019

Lukaku's an Inter cert

Unsettled striker exits after summer of discontent

Romelu Lukaku in an Inter Milan jersey after signing for the Italian club
Romelu Lukaku in an Inter Milan jersey after signing for the Italian club
Romelu Lukaku angered Ole Gunnar Solksjaer with some of his antics

Romelu Lukaku has completed his big-money switch to Inter Milan after weeks of pushing for a Manchester United exit.

It is just two years since the Belgium striker turned down a move to Antonio Conte's Chelsea to leave Everton for Old Trafford in a deal worth an initial £75million.

But Lukaku's desire to leave United for pastures new has been clear all summer and Inter, where Conte is now head coach, finally completed a deal for the want-away forward hours before the Premier League transfer window closed.

The Serie A side saw a E60m offer rebuffed last month and redoubled their efforts after Paulo Dybala's prohibitive demands thwarted a potential swap deal involving Lukaku between United and Juventus.

Inter will pay up to E80m (£73.7million) for Lukaku and a sell-on clause has been inserted in the deal. The striker, who scored 42 goals in 96 appearances for United, has signed a contract until 2024.

"Inter were the only club I wanted, because Inter is Not For Everyone," Lukaku said upon signing. "I'm here to bring the Nerazzurri back to the top."

Having raised eyebrows and irked United by starting the week training at former club Anderlecht in Belgium, the 26-year-old arrived in Milan overnight to complete paperwork and a medical.

Lukaku's agent Federico Pastorello had flown into London on Wednesday to push through his client's exit and end a rather uncomfortable - and at times unsavoury - process.

Despite going on the pre-season tour of Australia and Asia, knocks prevented the striker from appearing in any of United's four friendly matches.

Lukaku also missed the matches against Kristiansund and AC Milan upon their return to Europe.

The ex-Chelsea and West Brom forward got under the skin of Solskjaer ahead of that final friendly when posting on Twitter a video showing internal data of United players' maximum speed in training. The message was swiftly deleted.

Asked about that following the AC Milan game in Cardiff, Solskjaer said: "I've spoken to Rom, yeah, to put it that way. And that's case closed."

The United boss will be quizzed about Lukaku's exit at today's pre-match press conference, but club greats like Phil Neville, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes are not sad to see the striker leave.

Phil Neville said: "He started well, didn't he? He started well.

"I'll be honest with you, I never felt as if he was a United centre forward. That was my feeling.

"But he started well, then obviously he lost a little bit of confidence and then found it difficult to get back up to form.

"I think there was always that feeling of was he fit enough? And was his style suited to playing football for Manchester United? That was my question.

"He'll always score goals wherever he goes. He'll score goals for Inter Milan.

"But the way you want to play, you've got to fit the right people on the bus and Romelu Lukaku was never that person."

Neville was speaking as TalkTalk celebrated a new five-year partnership with Salford City, with fellow part-owners Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville also in attendance.

While not as pointed, Scholes does not believe Lukaku suited former team-mate Solskjaer's style.

"I don't think he was suited to Ole either," the former United midfielder said.

"Ole wants someone with a bit of energy, a bit of speed, someone who is going to work hard (but) he'll score goals."

Lukaku was the only completed piece of transfer business involving United on deadline day.

A move for Juventus' Mario Mandzukic never recovered after the swap deal involving the Belgian collapsed, while talks with Everton for defender Marcos Rojo did not bear fruit.

The Argentina international and Matteo Darmian are among those who could yet leave this month due to longer windows elsewhere in Europe.

Solskjaer had hoped to bolster the midfield and add a right winger this summer, yet the United manager is largely happy with the business done. The way young talents are developing is also a big fillip.

The Norwegian will face the media on this morning ahead of Sunday's Premier League opener against Chelsea.

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