Mourinho ponders Rooney-Lukaku swap deal
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