London, United Kingdom, Jul 6 – Everton striker Romelu Lukaku is set to join Manchester United for a record fee between British clubs of £75 million ($97m, 85.5m euros), according to media reports Thursday.
Both the BBC and Press Association reported the deal was all but done for the 24-year-old Belgian international, who will be reunited with Jose Mourinho, who sold him to Everton in 2014 for £28m when the Portuguese coach was in his second spell as Chelsea manager.
Meanwhile Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney is reported to be heading the other way, set to rejoin Everton, the club where he originally made his name. The Times said the move could be part of the Lukaku deal.
According to the BBC, senior United club sources had confirmed to them the Lukaku move had gone through although Everton — who were said to be hoping for a fee more in the region of £100m — denied any such agreement had been reached.
Even if the deal were to be confirmed at £75m it would smash the record for a transfer fee between British clubs — the record is the £50m paid by Chelsea to Liverpool for Fernando Torres in 2011 — and register as the joint-fifth most expensive player of all time.
Everton had offered the former Anderlecht star the most lucrative contract in the club’s history after he scored 25 Premier League goals last season but he turned it down, saying he wanted to move on to another level.
This alerted several clubs to his availability with Chelsea initially the favourites but Mourinho — who enjoys excellent relations with his agent Mino Raiola — looks to have snatched him from under Antonio Conte’s nose.
If the deal goes through, Lukaku’s arrival at Old Trafford would suggest United end their interest in signing Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid.
– Peripheral figure –
Raiola has had a profitable time since Mourinho took over at United last year, with the world’s most expensive player Paul Pogba, attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, all his clients, arriving at the club in 2016.
Meanwhile England and Manchester United’s record goalscorer Rooney could be set for a return to Everton.
The 31-year-old, who flourished at Everton by bursting onto the scene as a teenager and scoring 17 goals in 77 appearances, has become a peripheral figure at Manchester United since Jose Mourinho took over last year.
Rooney, who also lost his place in the England squad, has stated the only other Premier League side he would consider joining is Everton, and with interest fading from China, either a return to Merseyside or a move to the United States looked to be his best options.
The Daily Mail says Everton are hopeful of ‘thrashing out a deal’ while The Guardian noted that with one year remaining on his contract, United may demand a transfer fee but not a sizeable one for the player who joined the club in 2004 for £27 million.
The paper also said the deal would lighten United’s annual wage bill by £13 million.
Both Rooney and United favour a permanent deal rather than a loan, although Everton may balk at the wage demands, according to the reports.
Rooney is not expected to demand a permanent first-team place but is keen to play more often than he did at United where he made just 26 appearances last term.