Man Utd have snapped up Belgian centre forward Romelu Lukaku for the stratospheric sum of £75 million and fans will hope he can propel the club to the title. Signing a striker was always going to be a priority this summer after the loss of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Utd responded by beating Chelsea to capture one of the most coveted men in world football. Everyone has their own opinion about whether it was money well spent, but the figures speak for themselves. Last season the Belgian was the second highest scorer in the league, despite finishing for a team that finished seventh.
Lukaku banged in 53 Premiership goals in 104 games for a pretty mediocre Everton side, and that is better than one every other game. At a club of Man Utd’s stature and ambition, with service from likes Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Juan Mata, he should flourish. He has already established himself as the main man in a very good Belgium national team and now has the desire to prove he is among the world’s best strikers. That he chose to do it at Old Trafford rather than re-join Chelsea – who matched our bid for him – is a real coup for the club.
Can he fire Man Utd to the title? Lukaku has become the second favourite to win the Golden Boot next season at odds of 9/2. Harry Kane, the 3/1 favourite, has won the accolade for the past two seasons running and will take some stopping in 2017/18, but now, after joining Utd, Lukaku has the platform to outscore Kane, Sergio Aguero, Alexandre Lacazette, Roberto Firmino and the man that went in the other direction, the great Wayne Rooney. Backing Lukaku to win the Golden Boot at 9/2 looks a really intriguing option, as does the 7/2 available on Man Utd to win the title next season.
Utd finished sixth last season, but could have finished fourth if they had not prioritised the Europa League. Even so, there is a lot of ground to make up on Chelsea, Tottenham and Man City, but Jose Mourinho won the title in his second season back at Chelsea and there is every reason to think he can do repeat the trick at Old Trafford. The Red Devils had an extremely stubborn defence last season and were almost impossible to beat. What let them down was a failure to kill off teams in games they dominated. That ultimately cost them. Ibrahimovic’s goals were vital, but he did not stretch opposition defences. He has supreme technical ability, but lacks pace, and Lukaku will give Utd another dimension going forwards. For a big man the Belgian is surprisingly fleet of foot and he is quick, with powerful acceleration, as well as being strong in the air, good at holding the ball up, possessing excellent movement and awareness and being a clinical finisher.
Lukaku also cannot afford to rest on his laurels as the precocious talent that is Marcus Rashford will be breathing down his neck all season. If he slacks at all, Rashford is a willing and able replacement. Some have questioned Lukaku’s decision to sign for a manager that sold him at Chelsea and criticised him publicly in the aftermath, but Lukaku knows that you do not spend £75 million on someone to keep him on the bench. Lukaku will lead the like and should dovetail well with his good friend Paul Pogba, and there are plenty of reasons for Man Utd fans to be extremely excited about the season ahead.