José Mourinho has made Romelu Lukaku a prime summer transfer target, with the Manchester United manager instructing his board to try and prise the 23-year-old from Everton in the next window despite Chelsea also retaining a strong interest.
Lukaku has refused to sign a new deal at Goodison Park, stating in March that he wants to harness his potential to become world class. ”You need the platform to show yourself,” he said then, the inference being this cannot be achieved if he remains at Everton.
Lukaku will only have a year left on his contract in the summer and while Everton would hope to extract the highest possible price, this weakens their bargaining position. Roberto Martínez, who bought Lukaku from Chelsea for £30m in 2014 when Everton manager, recently claimed the Merseyside club would hope to treble the fee. United, though, would hope to secure the striker for around £60m.
If United do not qualify for the Champions League this may put Chelsea in pole position, with Antonio Conte also intent on buying the Belgian.
Lukaku is represented by Mino Raiola, who is also the agent of Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who also moved to United last summer along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Belgian is the Premier League's top scorer, his 24 goal-total three better than Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane. Mourinho wants a proven finisher and centre-forward who can be a focal point for the attack in the same style as Ibrahimovic or Didier Drogba and Diego Costa, the latter two No9s being used in this way when the Portuguese managed Chelsea.
During his second spell at Stamford Bridge, Mourinho allowed Lukaku to go on loan to West Bromwich Albion and Everton before sanctioning his sale to the Goodison Park in July 2104. But the 54-year-old is now convinced of Lukaku’s quality and was intent on signing him even before Ibrahimovic’s serious knee injury that may have ended the 35-year-old’s career at Old Trafford.