Mour­inho pon­ders Rooney-Lukaku swap deal

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MANCHESTER: Manchester United man­ager Jose Mour­inho has made Ever­ton striker Romelu Lukaku his top sum­mer tar­get and is ready to of­fer Wayne Rooney as part of the deal.

Ever­ton are de­mand­ing £100 mil­lion (RM560 mil­lion) for Lukaku, the Pre­mier League’s top scorer, who is wanted by Chelsea as well as Manchester United. But United want to pay much less and may pro­pose a deal that would en­able Rooney’s re­turn to Good­i­son Park.

United value their record goalscorer at £17 mil­lion, but Rooney, 31, is likely to de­mand a size­able pay-off to cover the last two years of his £250,000-a-week con­tract.

Ever­ton are reluctant to of­fer more than £10 mil­lion for Rooney, who will have to take a £100,000a-week pay cut if he re­turns to his boy­hood club.

Rooney ac­cepts he will leave United this sum­mer de­spite claim­ing ear­lier this week that he wants to con­tinue at Old Traf­ford.

But the Eng­land striker is de­ter­mined to go on his own terms and will not ac­cept be­ing a makeweight — un­less the deal is right. While a re­turn to Ever­ton ap­peals, there may be more lu­cra­tive op­tions on of­fer in China and Amer­ica’s Ma­jor League Soc­cer.

Mour­inho wants to sign two strik­ers this sum­mer and has put Lukaku — who has re­fused to sign a new Ever­ton deal — at the top of his wish list ahead of Atletico Madrid’s An­toine Griez­mann. Real Madrid’s James Ro­driguez is another tar­get, ac­cord­ing to re­ports last night in the player’s Colom­bian home­land.

But Mour­inho sees the 6ft 3in Lukaku as the long-term re­place­ment for Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic — re­gard­less of whether the Swedish star plays for United again af­ter ma­jor knee surgery.

Mour­inho let Lukaku leave Chelsea for Ever­ton for £28 mil­lion in 2014, but is ready to bat­tle his old club for the 24-year-old.

It will mean do­ing more busi­ness with Mino Raiola, Lukaku’s agent who also rep­re­sents Ibrahi­movic, Paul Pogba and Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan. It was re­vealed ear­lier this week that Raiola earned £41.39 mil­lion cut from Pogba’s move to United.

Lukaku would give Mour­inho the phys­i­cal tar­get-man he likes his teams to have af­ter be­moan­ing the lack of ‘killers’ at United in re­cent weeks.

United have scored 51 goals in the league this sea­son, fewer than Bournemouth, and trail well be­hind the top-four clubs.

Af­ter see­ing United strug­gle to see off Celta Vigo on Thurs­day, Mour­inho moaned: “Our story is nor­mally when we play very well we don’t score enough goals.”

United face Ajax in the fi­nal in Stock­holm on May 24 and Mour­inho will make changes for United’s last three Pre­mier League fix­tures against Tot­ten­ham to­day, Southamp­ton and Crys­tal Palace to keep his first-choice team fresh.

Mean­while, Ever­ton mid­fielder Ross Barkley scored the win­ner in pos­si­bly his last home game at Good­i­son Park as Ever­ton beat Wat­ford 1-0 in a low-key Pre­mier League match on Fri­day.

Eng­land in­ter­na­tional Barkley, who has been told to tell Ever­ton if he wants to stay at the club in the next few days, was al­lowed to run un­chal­lenged from mid­way in­side the Wat­ford half af­ter 56 min­utes be­fore curl­ing a firm shot into the net. Agen­cies

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney

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