It is sure to be a concern for Chelsea that they were beaten to a much-anticipated signing by a rival club, but I think Romelu Lukaku’s £75m move to Old Trafford rather than Stamford Bridge is the right one for him and Manchester United – and could also work out best for the Blues.
I was never certain that returning to Chelsea was the best move for Lukaku as it rarely works out well when players go back to former clubs.
He has been settled in the north-west for three years already so when United’s interest solidified last week they immediately felt a better fit.
United are, of course, a great move for most players. They are the biggest in the world financially, are a huge brand and going in the right direction under Jose Mourinho.
The football has not been great but we should see more from the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford next season and I think the team will continue to improve.
On a personal level for Lukaku, it’s good that he won’t be filling the boots of someone who out-scored him last term, having netted 25 Premier League goals – eight more than Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Why Lukaku is good for United
For United, Lukaku can bring a cutting edge that they have lacked. Everton manager Ronald Koeman rates him as one of the best finishers, and United are crying out for someone to convert chances. The Belgian is a proven scorer in this division and will bang in the goals.
Lukaku’s arrival can also make United a more effective and exciting team. As well as Ibrahimovic did, he couldn’t turn defences and that dictated the way United played. It slowed them down.
Alvaro Morata, who looked the prime target before they switched attention to Lukaku, is similar to Ibra in that respect.
Lukaku is more dynamic. With him, United can go back to the football of old, the rapid counter-attacking of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney. He fits that model naturally.
He has to improve
While Lukaku had previous with Chelsea, he failed to break into Chelsea’s first team under Mourinho, who eventually sold him in 2014.
But you have to remember he was very young – he was 18 when he joined the Blues – and at that age it’s difficult to tie down a position at the biggest clubs.
He took a different route and learned his trade at West Brom and then Everton. He is still not the finished article, though.
In particular, he has to improve his first touch, both in teeing himself up and laying off to team-mates. Silky Sergio Aguero is the master at that.
If he can do that, however, he will make United better in possession and a more effective team all round. There’s no reason why he can’t: he has improved each year.
Chelsea better off with Morata
Morata, meanwhile, now looks like he could head to Chelsea.
His style of play and familiarity with the methods of Italian coaches makes him a better match for the champions and Antonio Conte than United.
I think he’s more likely to settle in London than Manchester, too.
That just leaves Everton.
Lukaku’s departure leaves a hole, but Koeman’s signings so far this summer have created a tangible excitement among fans – and there should be more arrivals to come.
Even without Lukaku next season, the goal has to be breaking into the top four.