Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lukaku can take United to another level in place of Ibrahimovic – Neville

SoccerNews in English Premier League 7 Jul 2017

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Former Everton captain Phil Neville believes Romelu Lukaku has what it takes to improve Manchester United following the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Everton star Lukaku is believed to be on the verge of reuniting with United manager Jose Mourinho following widespread reports of a £75million bid for the 24-year-old Belgium international striker.

Antonio Conte and Chelsea were reportedly frontrunners for Lukaku – who scored 25 goals in the league last season as he finished behind Golden Boot winner Harry Kane – but United appear to have hijacked the Premier League champions in their move.

A switch to Old Trafford would see Lukaku team up with Mourinho again after he was sold by the then-Chelsea boss to Everton in 2014, while uniting him with close friend Paul Pogba.

And Neville – who spent eight years at Goodison Park having emerged from United’s youth system – feels the younger and improved Lukaku can help United become more dangerous in transition after 35-year-old Swede Ibrahimovic was not retained by the club following a serious knee injury.

“I think you’ve seen an improvement, I think there were of couple of criticisms – can he play in big games? Can he score in the big games? I think he half dispelled that last season,” Neville told BBC Radio Five Live.

“He scored in a couple of the big games and I think he is improving all the time. I think he’s a different type of striker from what United have had for a long time, someone that can probably run in behind, can be a little bit of a battering ram, that United can play on the counter-attack.

“I think with Zlatan last season United couldn’t play on the counter-attack because obviously his age and the fact his legs are slowing down a little bit. Now you’ve got someone with genuine, genuine speed that United can play on the counter-attack.

“It will be interesting to see how he fits into this United team because there’s a lot of talk about ‘Jose sold him, didn’t play him at Chelsea’, but that was four or five years ago. Romelu Lukaku is a different player now, he is a better player. His record actually is sensational. I mean 25 goals last year, 18 the year before. If you go back to his West Brom days when he was on loan there from Chelsea [he scored] 17 Premier League goals. If he gets anything like 17 to 20 this year United will be successful.”

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