London: Everton have accepted Manchester United’s £75 million ($97 million) bid for striker Romelu Lukaku, British media reported on Thursday. The 24-year-old Belgium international was second in the Premier League scoring charts last season with 25 goals. Lukaku had been linked with a move to former club Chelsea but will now reunite with ex-Blues manager Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford.
Lukaku scored 87 goals in all competitions after joining Everton from Chelsea for a club record £28 million in 2014.
Sky Sports and the BBC both said United are hopeful of completing a deal in time for Lukaku to join them on their pre-season tour of the United States next week.
Everton had offered the former Anderlecht star the most lucrative contract in the club’s history after he scored 25 Premier League goals last season but he turned it down, saying he wanted to move on to another level.
This alerted several clubs to his availability with Chelsea initially the favourites but Mourinho — who enjoys excellent relations with his agent Mino Raiola — looks to have snatched him from under Antoni Conte’s nose. Lukaku’s arrival at Old Trafford would suggest United cease their interest in signing Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid.
Raiola has had a profitable time since Mourinho took over at United last year, with the world’s most expensive player Paul Pogba, attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, all his clients, arriving at the club in 2016.
The Belgian was named in the PFA Team of the Year for the first time, and was also included in the six player shortlists for the PFA Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year awards.
In an unrelated development, England and Manchester United’s record goalscorer Wayne Rooney could be set for a return to Everton, the club where he made his name, according to the British media.
The 31-year-old who flourished at Everton — bursting onto the scene as a teenager and scoring 15 goals in 67 appearances — has become a peripheral figure at Manchester United since Jose Mourinho took over last year.
Rooney, who also lost his place in the England squad, has stated the only other Premier League side he would consider joining is Everton and with apparently interest fading from China either a return to Merseyside or a move to the United States looked to be his best options.
The Daily Mail says Everton are hopeful of ‘thrashing out a deal’ while The Guardian noted that with one year remaining on his contract, United may demand a transfer fee but not a sizeable one for the player who joined the club in 2004 for £27 million ($35m).
The paper also said the deal would also lighten United’s annual wage bill by £13 million.
Both Rooney and United favour a permanent deal rather than a loan, although Everton may balk at the wages demands, according to the reports.
Rooney is not expected to demand a permanent first team place but is keen to play more often than he did at United where he made just 26 appearances last term. — Agencies