Belfast Telegraph

Lukaku is already sweating for United cause

 

By Simon Peach

Romelu Lukaku has hit the ground running at Manchester United, training with his new team-mates in Los Angeles within an hour of completing his big-money move from Everton.

A return to former club Chelsea had looked likely for much of the summer, only for United to swoop in and gazump the Premier League champions.

Lukaku has arrived in a deal worth £75m plus add-ons, penning a five-year deal at Old Trafford with the option of a sixth.

"I would like to start by thanking Everton and the fans for the last four wonderful seasons, I have made some special friends and we have shared some amazing moments," said the striker, who has chosen the No.9 worn by Zlatan Ibrahimovic last term.

"However, 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.

"You could see the fight, determination and the spirit in this team during the Europa League final and I want to become a part of that.

"I cannot wait to run out at Old Trafford in front of 75,000 fans but before that pre-season is where the hard work starts and I am looking forward to that first training session."

That first session came within an hour of official confirmation of the deal, having been on holiday in Los Angeles with United midfielder Paul Pogba.

Lukaku stayed with the team at their Beverly Hills hotel on Sunday and arrived with his new team-mates at UCLA yesterday morning, signing autographs and posing for photos for fans.

The striker was made to sweat as United's pre-season tour got under way, with the first of a double session yesterday taking place at Drake Stadium in temperatures around 30 degrees Celsius. Little wonder there is a pool set up at the side of the pitch.

Jose Mourinho looked far more happy with the set-up in LA compared to last summer's ill-fated tour in China and is delighted to be working with Lukaku once again.

"Romelu is a natural fit for Manchester United," he said of a player he sold when Chelsea manager in 2014. "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."

Mourinho named a 27-man group for United's summer tour, although the arrival of Lukaku has already swollen that number.

Fellow new boy Victor Lindelof, a summer acquisition from Benfica, trained with his new team-mates at UCLA, where Luke Shaw and Ashley Young worked away from the main group as they step up their return from injury.

United's first match of the tour comes against LA Galaxy on Saturday, before friendlies against Real Salt Lake, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Hard work on the field will be matched by that behind the scenes as the club continue to work on new signings.

It is understood that Tottenham's Eric Dier remains a target as talk of a move for Chelsea defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic dissipates.

Inter Milan's Ivan Perisic continues to be linked with a move to Old Trafford, while speculation remains as to who will follow Wayne Rooney out of the club. United's all-time top scorer completed his return to boyhood club Everton after 13 years on Sunday.

The omission from the travelling group of Adnan Januzaj, who spent last season on loan at Sunderland, underlines his place in Mourinho's thoughts. It is understood that Real Sociedad are among those vying for his signature.

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