Former Manchester United defender Gary Pallister has explained why Jose Mourinho opted for Romelu Lukaku over Alvaro Morata, pointing towards the former’s Premier League experience as a crucial factor.
A deal for the Spaniard, who struggled for starting opportunities at Real Madrid last season, was reportedly “hours away”, only for Lukaku to arrive for a fee of £75m instead.
Chelsea, in response, signed Morata for £60m after seeing their main transfer target for this summer move to Old Trafford.
And Pallister, when asked to choose between Lukaku, Morata and Arsenal’s Alexandre Lacazette, responded: “I’m going to say Lukaku because he is proven in the Premier League.”
“The other guys come over to the Premier League and the pace and power is different but Lukaku has done it regularly for West Brom and Everton.
“He is a proven Premier League goal-scorer and I think that’s why Jose gave up on Morata. Lukaku is very bullish, brash and quick. He’ll mess defenders about.”
Whether the process that saw Lukaku move to United, leaving Chelsea and Madrid dumbfounded, was intentional or not is unclear, but it was shrewdly done nonetheless.
Ongoing negotiations with Madrid for Morata, which saw United forced into raising their offer on a regular basis, made it seem like their only option up front for next season was the Spaniard, meaning the La Liga champions could demand a high sum whilst letting Chelsea take their time working on a deal for Lukaku.
The following sucker-punch came abruptly, and time will tell whether or not United made the right move. The early signs suggest that Lukaku, with the right service, could be a fantastic asset and just the antidote needed for a side that struggled to break down lesser sides at home last season.