EVERTON will secure the signature of Wayne Rooney after banking Manchester United’s initial £75m cheque for Romelu Lukaku.
The two deals were never interdependent, but the mutual desire to get Rooney back to his boyhood club was a telling factor in the Toffees’ decision to ignore Chelsea’s late interest and press ahead with selling their all-time top Premier League scorer to Old Trafford.
The Lukaku fee will eventually rise to £90m with add-ons as Rooney is valued at £10m, making the whole deal worth a record-breaking £100m.
It’s the second summer running that Jose Mourinho has broken the world transfer record and the pressure is now on the 24-year-old Belgian Lukaku to use his friendship with Paul Pogba to bring home the Premier League title or the Champions League trophy.
With the world’s two most expensive players now at the club, a repeat of last season’s League form – even though it was accompanied by the EFL Cup and the Europa League trophy – would be considered totally unacceptable.
Lukaku was due to complete his medical last night in advance of settling personal terms and will join up with his new team-mates, who fly to the USA today, for pre-season training.
A fly in the ointment for him is that he has been cited to appear in court in the States on October 2, after being cautioned by Beverly Hills police for playing his music too loud at his holiday accommodation.
Rooney was due to be on that plane to the States today, but instead will finalise details of an emotional return to the club he supported as a boy but left at 18.
According to Mickey Thomas, who played for both clubs and commentates for MUTV, it’s a win-win for both players and the clubs.
“Getting Lukaku is massive for United,” he says. “He’s a natural goalscorer and they are very hard to come by. He comes at a very heavy price but you have to pay it because he definitely enhances their chances of winning one of the big trophies.
“People call him lazy but I don’t see that. The lone striker role he played at Everton is very demanding and he did it really well.
“I think he’ll embrace the challenge of being at United. It’s the biggest club in the world and he’ll be in a different sort of spotlight.
“He’s box office and he’ll have to produce week in, week out.
“He seems the sort of guy who won’t be affected by that pressure. He’s always answered his critics with goals and I’m sure he’ll score a lot at United with the players he’ll have around him.”
Thomas also believes that Rooney’s return to Goodison can secure the former England captain a place in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup Squad.
“It’s the ideal move for Wayne,” adds the former Welsh international. “If he can’t play at Old Trafford there’s no better place for him than Goodison Park.
“I’m a huge Rooney fan and he’s still got a lot to offer. His scoring record is fantastic and you look at what he could add to Everton with his experience in big game situations.
“For him to be in contention for the World Cup he will obviously have to play regularly, be in form and scoring.
“But Gareth can’t write him off. There’s no doubt he can push his way back in and I’d be delighted if he did.
“Wayne has had a lot of criticism over the years and has always had to play under a lot of pressure, especially since he has been United and England captain. His life has been a zoo with people looking at him.
“When he wasn’t playing regularly last season he got on with the job and contributed.
“He is, without doubt, a top professional and doesn’t get the credit he deserves.
“He’s an easy target. When something goes wrong, blame Wayne Rooney. It’s totally unfair. He’s been hammered by sections of the media.
“I have watched every game he’s played for United and I know what he is about.
“United fans won’t forget what he’s done. He’s been a major player in a very successful era in the club’s history.
“He was a magnificent signing. Absolutely top-drawer.
“I don’t think that China was ever the right fit for him. I don’t believe that money has ever been the overriding factor for Wayne himself. I don’t think he’s greedy.
“He’s a football man and he doesn’t want to let time slip by.
“He wants to be kicking a ball. He grew up that way and wants to end that way.
“That’s why I respect him so much.”
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