Jose Mourinho has insisted that Neymar’s world-record transfer to Paris Saint Germain in August would have doubled the fee required to land the services of Romelu Lukaku at Manchester United.
The Portuguese shocked the footballing world back in July when he seemingly pinched Lukaku from under Chelsea manager Antonio Conte’s nose amid difficult negotiations for Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata, signing the Belgian for £75m, which could rise to £90m with add-ons. And he has made a scintillating start to life at Old Trafford, claiming four goals in as many games under Mourinho alongside netting a further four for Belgium against Gibraltar and Greece.
Such a figure – the second highest ever paid by United – appeared hefty to say the least until Neymar forever changed the parameters of the transfer market by completing a £198m move to Paris Saint Germain from Barcelona, doubling the fee Mourinho shelled out for Paul Pogba a year ago. Since then, PSG have secured the services of Kylian Mbappe for £165m and Barcelona have lumped out £135m for Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele – a player who cost just £12m just a year ago.
And Mourinho, in an interview with the Times, has noted that the nature of the footballing market has changed to such an extent that Lukaku, if bought just a month later, would have costed double the amount United had to pay for him.
“I think we were very clever,” he said. “We thought that something could happen that could change the market forever. Normally the last part of the market is less expensive, but this season, after Neymar [left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record £199 million deal], everything changed — and changed for the worse in terms of prices.
“I think Lukaku on August 31 would have been £150 million. Matic would have been £60 million or £70 million. Neymar changed everything. If the biggest transfer in history had still been Pogba, I think Philippe Coutinho [the Liverpool playmaker] would now be in Barcelona at £101 million.
“People look to the £200 million figure now. Now the players of £20 million became £40 million, the players of £40 million became £60 million and everything changed. Lukaku and Matic, now, would have cost us £200 million in total. But because we did it in the first part of the summer, it was much less. I think we did well in financial terms and well in preparation terms, getting them before the season started. That is not crucial but it is important.”