Paul Pogba has revealed that Romelu Lukaku’s decision to join Manchester United last month was engendered by a dinner conversation which saw the Frenchman convince his friend to join him at Old Trafford for the 2017/18 campaign.
Man United had focused their efforts on pursuing Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata during the early stages of the transfer window, only for negotiations with Florentino Perez to move incredibly slowly with the Champions League winners – perhaps convinced that Morata was Jose Mourinho’s only option up front – demanding around £70m for the Spaniard. Clearly frustrated at the lack of progress, the 24-year-old departed from his honeymoon in Ibiza early and traveled to Madrid to push the deal through.
Lukaku, on the other hand, appeared destined for a move to Chelsea, confirming in June he would leave Everton this summer after claiming 87 goals in four years at Goodison Park. This was the assumed modus operandi for over a month, but in the space of a few hours the entire complexion changed, with United snatching the Belgian – Antonio Conte’s main target – from under Chelsea’s nose for £75m, leaving Madrid and Chelsea gobsmacked and Mourinho with one of the Premier League’s most prolific strikers.
Where was Lukaku during the time of this sudden switch? What was he doing? He was, of course, enjoying a luxurious holiday in the plush Los Angeles meadows with Pogba. By the time pre-season was starting he was a United player. So what exactly did Agent Paul do to convince the 24-year-old to pick United over Chelsea?
“I had been preparing for this. It was long work – I took him to dinner and I talked to him,” he said.
“I had to work for it but the finale is that he’s here, he’s with us and he’s banging in goals.
“He’s a player who knows the Premier League and can help us a lot. When you’re with those people that you’re close to, you know you want to die for them too.
“It’s always good to be close with your team-mates on and outside of the pitch.”
Chelsea went on to secure the services of Morata, yet to score in pre-season and guilty of missing a penalty against Arsenal in the Community Shield. He has the talent to succeed at Stamford Bridge but you can tell he wasn’t by any stretch Conte’s desired option up front as he looks to replace the seemingly outbound Diego Costa.
Lukaku, on the other hand, has claimed goals against Real Salt Lake, Manchester City and Valerenga in pre-season and looks to be extremely settled in the United camp ahead of the new campaign.
The most persistent malaise of United’s opening campaign under Mourinho was an almost inexplicable failure to put away chances against lesser Premier League sides – especially at Old Trafford. And the Portuguese, in response, has secured the services of a striker who, over the last few years, has ripped such teams to shreds on a relentless basis.