Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has aimed a thinly-veiled dig at former club Chelsea after beating them to the signing of Everton striker Romelu Lukaku for a fee that could rise to a world record £90m.
Mourinho said it was “only natural” that Lukaku, who had been expected to return to Chelsea this summer, should choose to join United since they are “the biggest club”.
The Belgium international, 24, has signed a five-year contract with the option of a further year after United agreed a fee of £75m that could rise depending on performance bonuses.
“Romelu is a natural fit for Manchester United,” said Mourinho, who sold Lukaku to Everton during his second spell as Chelsea manager.
“He is a big personality and a big player. It is only natural that he wants to develop his career at the biggest club.
“He will be a great addition to the group and I know they will make him very welcome. I am really looking forward to working with him again.”
United appeared to catch Chelsea on the hop with their move for Lukaku, having spent the summer pursuing Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata, and wrapped up the signing over the weekend.
Lukakau, who has joined up with his new team-mates in Los Angeles where they face LA Galaxy in their first pre-season fixture on Saturday, said he felt unable to refuse United or Mourinho.
“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,” he said.
Premier League champions Chelsea have now turned their attentions to Morata, according to reports in Europe, as they seek a marquee signing to replace outgoing centre-forward Diego Costa.
Costa, who says he has been told to leave by Blues boss Antonio Conte, has been given permission to miss pre-season training this week while all parties seek to agree his return to Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea are also close to agreeing to send England Under-21 midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek on a season-long loan to Crystal Palace, while defender Ola Aina could join Hull on a similar basis.
Liverpool have confirmed the signing of former Chelsea trainee Dominic Solanke, one of the stars of England’s World Cup-winning Under-20 side. Solanke was out of contract and the fee is to be decided by tribunal.