Romelu Lukaku confirms Paul Pogba had a part to play in Manchester United move but it was Jose Mourinho who struck the deal

Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku has spoken to the clubs television channel, MUTV about how teammate and friend Paul Pogba deliberately drove past the clubs Old Trafford home after the pair had dinner together, offering the Belgian striker a glimpse into the future. Pogba’s pursuance of his friend clearly worked as just under a year since the player returned home from Juventus in an £89 million world record transfer, Lukaku has joined the Frenchman at the Theatre of Dreams. Lukaku signed for Jose Mourinho’s side after a £75 million switch from Everton with United signing the player under the noses of Chelsea, Lukaku’s former club and the club he was reportedly destined to rejoin this summer. Chelsea have since signed United target Alvaro Morata, a player who United walked away from negotiations after failing to find agreement with Real Madrid, something Chelsea seemed to find easily.

Lukaku has already made an impression at United, playing in four pre-season matches, one for 90 minutes against Manchester City, scoring in that match and also in the previous match against MLS side Real Salt Lake. The Belgian striker seems to have filled the void left by Zlatan Ibrahimovic at this stage of the season with United yet to play a competitive match. The fact the player scored 25 goals in the Premier League last season with Everton will suggest he could do the same for United this season, maybe scoring more goals in other competitions also. Lukaku, speaking to the official Manchester United website spoke about Pogba’s persuading of the player, saying:

“I spoke with Paul a lot, obviously. We spent our holiday together and he said: ‘What do you want to do?’ I told him that I was thinking a lot about signing for United, something was telling me [to do it]. 

“I live near Manchester so, when I was coming to the city [centre], I would drive past Old Trafford and ask my mates what they thought. Me and Paul, we’d go to the city to have dinner and he’d drive past Old Trafford on purpose!”

Lukaku also stated that he knew from day one that the decision he had made was the right one. Manchester United are a club on the up after Jose Mourinho became the manager over a year ago and that has been shown by the club winning the FA Community Shield, the EFL Cup (now the Carabao Cup) and the UEFA Europa League last season, which earned the club a place back in the elite European competition, the UEFA Champions League. Lukaku had previously played for Mourinho at Chelsea, which helped him make his mind up. The Portuguese manager is a winner, wants his team to win and demands that of his players. Lukaku, speaking about his decision to snub former club Chelsea and move to the Theatre of Dreams where he would team up with his best friend, Paul Pogba, saying:

“The first thing I noticed when I came to the meeting room on my first day with the team, the manager had a meeting and you just felt something special. Loads of the players were saying that this group is quite special; we’re all young, hungry players. 

“In training, everyone wants to be the best, everyone wants to win, so to be part of a team like that is great. Players like Marcus [Rashford], Jesse [Lingard], Micki [Henrikh Mkhitaryan], Juan [Mata], Ander [Herrera] – players like that are hungry to win trophies and it’s time for us. We need to work hard; the manager has a masterplan and we are here to follow it. Hopefully it’s going to take us to the top.

“That’s what I came here for [trophies]. Manchester United, for me, equals trophies. The biggest club in the world equals trophies. Growing up, I’ve seen United win the league every year, almost! You want to be a part of that history; it’s drilled into your head when you do training sessions with the players, you don’t want to be on the losing side. 

“You don’t want to be on the losing side in the training sessions, in the friendlies or the official games, you want to win constantly and improve year after year. That is something that I wanted to feel. I wanted to feel that pressure, I wanted to feel that hunger – to be here now, I’m really grateful. I’m grateful to be part of the biggest club in the world, but there is a lot of work to be done, and I know that I need to work much harder than I have until now. 

“I want to do it because, at the end of the day, I want the club to reach bigger heights, I want the players to win a lot of trophies and I want to create history with the club. Manchester United is the biggest club in the world, so we need to work hard to make sure the club gets there.

“You always have to work hard and believe that there’s something you can improve every year. Every year, at the end of the season, I will look to all of the games that I have played and I will look to the negatives, to the positives, and take it further into the next year. 

“I think the key to me scoring more and more every year is that I work during the off-season on my negative points and it helps me a lot. I don’t think I will peak now, and also in my mind I think it’s not how you start the race but it’s how you finish. In your career, you always have obstacles, but you need to make sure you have the consistency to go with it. I’m playing for the biggest club in the world, so I need to play like one of the best players and make sure that my teammates win.”

Looking at his performances for United in pre-season, Lukaku will go a long way to being that striker the club have been looking for since Robin van Persie lost his form and left the Old Trafford club. The Dutchman was the last player for United to score more than 30 goals for the club, which seems a long time ago. Ibrahimovic came close last season, scoring 28 goals in all competitions, which could have been increased had his season not been prematurely ended with that knee injury against Anderlecht in the Europa League at Old Trafford. Perhaps Lukaku will be that striker to score 30 goals or more, which could see United form a title challenge in the coming season, providing the Belgian’s teammates step up to the plate too as he cannot do it all by himself.

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