Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has explained exactly why he signed Romelu Lukaku from Everton, and emphasised he has an excellent relationship with his former Chelsea player.
In a press conference to preview this weekend’s match against LA Galaxy in the US, the boss admitted a target man was always high on his list of priorities in the transfer market, before he declared Lukaku’s history of scoring goals in the Premier League made him the perfect addition.
“He was difficult to get,” Jose told reporters. “He is from the Premier League. Obviously there are other good strikers in football, but the Premier League is a very specific habitat. A difficult habitat for strikers and normally they need some time to adapt, but Lukaku has been in the Premier League for five seasons.
“Now he comes to a club with different responsibilities in the right moment of his career. He is still a young player but he has years of experience in the Premier League and the Belgian national team. He will go into the Champions League, which was also his main motivation.
“Romelu is not a player that participates a lot in the build-up play. He is a player that normally plays in the last third. We had so many opponents last season that decided clearly to defend, closing spaces, playing with lots of defenders and defensive midfield players.
“We needed a target man, which is not Martial or Rashford. We have good options, good players, but a target man, a clear number nine, one who is comfortable to play in the box, we thought that was Romelu.”
Mourinho briefly worked with Lukaku when he returned to Chelsea in the summer of 2012, before he later allowed Romelu to transfer to Everton. They are now back together at United and Jose says they have a very good relationship, however he did not play a part in the negotiation process.
“I did nothing,” he said. “I did not negotiate. It was Mr Woodward who negotiated with Romelu, his agent and the Everton board. Everything was done by Mr Woodward. The only thing I did was to call him when the situation was almost there, just to guarantee that he will be an important player in my team.
“It is quite a great experience, the fact that we worked together already for a few months, during the time where I was at Chelsea. At Man United, he was at Everton and our relationship was always very close, in spite of it not working very well for us together. The relationship is good, he is polite, we have always kept a good feeling and now we are back together in a different moment.
“I told him and Lindelof on the day we started that they are very lucky to belong to such a group, not because they don’t deserve it from a professional point of view because they did very well at Everton and Benfica. But because the group is a really special group and it is amazing for a player to change club and feel that the group is fantastic. I feel they will be here for a long time.”