Romelu Lukaku signs five-year Manchester United deal despite late Chelsea bid
MANCHESTER, England (AP) – Romelu Lukaku joined Manchester United from Everton for 75 million pounds ($97 million) on Monday after the striker rejected a late bid by former club Chelsea.
The 24-year-old Belgium international signed a five-year deal and became the second most expensive player in United's history after close friend Paul Pogba, who joined last offseason for $116 million.
Lukaku, a powerfully built, 6-foot-3 striker, links for a second time with manager Jose Mourinho, who sold the player to Everton in 2014 when both were at Chelsea. Lukaku failed to establish a first-team place at Chelsea and had to spend most of his time on loan first at West Bromwich Albion and then Everton.
''Romelu is a natural fit for Manchester United. He is a big personality and a big player,'' Mourinho said.
Bolstering his strike force has been a priority for Mourinho ahead of his second season in charge at United after Zlatan Ibrahimovic–currently out with a knee injury–wasn't offered a contract extension.
Lukaku was the second highest scorer in the English Premier League last season, netting 25 goals as Everton finished seventh in the standings. United was a place higher but qualified for the Champions League by winning the Europa League.
''When Manchester United and Jose Mourinho come knocking at the door, it is an opportunity of a lifetime and one that I could not turn down,'' Lukaku said. ''You could see the fight, determination and the spirit in this team during the Europa League final and I want to become a part of that.''
In an interview with ESPN published on Sunday, Lukaku said he turned down an offer from Chelsea, the current English champion, because he had already given his word to United.
Lukaku is United's second signing of the summer, after center back Victor Lindelof, and will join the team in Los Angeles for preseason training.
Mourinho has stamped his own imprint on the United team, with Lukaku's arrival confirmed a day after Wayne Rooney left Old Trafford after 13 years to return to Everton.
With Lukaku up front, Pogba in central midfield, and Lindelof and Eric Bailly as center backs, Mourinho has a physically imposing spine to the side.
Lukaku said Pogba played a big role in convincing him to join United.
''Of course he is one of my best friends and he is my neighbor as well,'' Lukaku said. ''We are always together on a daily basis so he would explain to me how things were going.
''Last season when he signed for United, to have witnessed that, it really triggered something in my brain and I knew that if one day I had the chance to sign then I would not say `No.'''