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Romelu Lukaku will bring the physicality which was lacking last season, says Pallister

Manchester United signed Romelu Lukaku from Everton just over a fortnight ago now for an initial £75 million, which could rise to £90 million in total. The player did confirm that his friend and teammate Paul Pogba was driving him past United’s Old Trafford stadium after the pair had dinner together, pushing the thought into the player’s head that one day he would be a Manchester United player, little under a year after Pogba made the switch back to the Theatre of Dreams in an £89 million move from Juventus last summer. Lukaku has already scored two goals for United on the clubs pre-season tour helping sink both Real Salt Lake and Manchester City, failing to get a goal against Real Madrid, but he could play against Barcelona, which could see him score another goal stateside.

Former United defender Gary Pallister has been speaking about many things related to the Old Trafford club this summer, adding Lukaku to his comments and playing him up for a big season at the Theatre of Dreams, which will be what Jose Mourinho wanted to happen when he sealed the deal for the former Chelsea player, who was tipped by the media to head back to Stamford Bridge with United stealing the player from right under their noses. Pallister, speaking exclusively to 888sport spoke about Lukaku’s friendship with Pogba and how it could help him this coming season, saying:

“I think it’s great and we’ve seen their friendship on social media playing basketball together and training together. That can only be a positive for the team and the players themselves. Paul Pogba had his critics when he joined due to the price tag and it was a tough season for him.

“I think we’ll see a better Pogba this year, the one that we saw for France against England. He’s obviously full of quality and a big personality but finding a level of consistency last year was the tough part along with dealing with all of the expectation. He’s going to have a massive season.

“As for Romelu Lukaku, he’s going to bring the physicality that was lacking last season. I know that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a strong lad but he doesn’t move like Lukaku getting behind defenders. So he brings different options to United and I’m sure he’ll score lots of goals as well.”

Pallister also warned that Lukaku will face criticism from the media if he does not start scoring from the start of the season, just like Zlatan Ibrahimovic did last season when his goal scoring seemed to dry up for spells throughout the season. The media will criticise anything related to Manchester United, whereas, with other clubs, they would probably turn a blind eye. I mean look at Manchester City who are famed for having this all singing and all dancing Academy, yet the club has to spend around £200 million to sign four fullbacks, two first choice and two reserves ahead of the new season. Why could their Academy not produce these players saving the club money? Why have so many youth players left the blue side of Manchester? None of these sees any negativity in the media, which shows United still lead the way for news. Pallister said:

“I’ve got to say that you never know how players will settle in at Manchester United as it’s a different animal altogether from Everton, even probably Chelsea. The level of expectation at United exceeds both of those clubs. He’s got to get used to that.

“When you go for that fee everybody expects you to hit the ground running and be an instant hit but it didn’t happen to Pogba last year and I’m sure if Lukaku doesn’t score in his first few games the critics will be on his back.

“He’s a great piece of business though and will bring more dynamism to this United side and more physicality. Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata, and Jesse Lingard are all good players but haven’t got the power to worry defenders. Lukaku has that in abundance.”

Mourinho has been tipped to field two strikers for United this coming season, as was the case in the opening pre-season match against LA Galaxy in California. Both Lukaku and Marcus Rashford would play well together. Some might even liken them to the new Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke, which seemed to work well with United during the treble-winning season, which is what the pair were famed for, despite scoring throughout their careers at the Old Trafford club. The blistering pace of Rashford and his eye for a goal, not to mention the eye for a goal and the physicality offered by Lukaku could see Premier League defences shivering at the prospect of facing the pair, not to mention Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who will both create chances for the strikers and even score their own goals. Pallister said:

“I think they’ll be frightening. Marcus Rashford is only going to get stronger and better. He’s been on a quick learning curve and found himself in international football and a marked man in the Premier League. But he’s very grounded and won’t get ahead of himself and the pace of the two of them will give defenders and awful lot to think about. There is a suggestion that Jose Mourinho might play the two up front and that’s something the fans at Old Trafford would love to see because them two would really be a handful.”

Manchester United were in talks to sign Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata with the club coming close to signing the player despite a fee not being agreed with the Madrid club. Out of the blue on a Thursday morning just over a fortnight ago, it was reported that United had agreed a £75 million fee with Everton for Lukaku, which was soon denied by the Goodison Park club. Come the Friday evening, Chelsea had matched the offer United had made but it was too late. Early on the following Saturday morning, United tweeted they had agreed on a fee with Everton subject to personal terms and the player passing a medical. Lukaku was on holiday with Pogba in Los Angeles, the destination of United for their pre-season tour and by the following Monday, all was done. Arsenal had signed Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, who United were linked with but never made the move. Pallister feels the Lukaku signing is much better than that of Lacazette and Morata, saying:

“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 Bromwich Albion and Everton. He is a proven Premier League goalscorer and I think that’s why Mourinho gave up on Alvaro Morata. Lukaku is very bullish, brash and quick. He’ll mess defenders about.”

Manchester United will go a very long way this coming season if Lukaku does gel with his teammates and they all put in the performances to get United to where they want to be. United supporters will be expecting Jose Mourinho to lead the club to a Premier League title challenge, possibly even expecting him to bring that trophy back to Old Trafford come May 2018. United are in good hands, the three trophies, two of them major last season have shown just what Mourinho has brought to the club over the past year and if that success continues, United could be back on the road to glory, which is something we all want to see, especially to show the ABU’s (anyone but United brigade) that Manchester United are back and normal service has resumed. Of course, sweeping the board may not be possible next season, just a title challenge would be good to see, it has been four years since United challenged and won the Premier League trophy.

Read the full 888sport interview with Gary Pallister, including his thoughts on which club made the best signing of the transfer window.

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