Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku must secure a move to either Juventus or Inter
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Manchester United have a Romelu Lukaku-shaped issue on their hands. The 26-year-old Belgium international wants to leave, that's common knowledge. Around a month or so ago it felt like he'd stay at Old Trafford as nobody would be willing to cave into the Red Devils' hefty (but fair demands). As we all know, things can change pretty quickly in football...
After posing with his agent while writing the caption 'soon to be continued' on his social media accounts (see below), you get the feeling that Lukaku knows something we don't. Originally, the United #9 looked set to secure a move to Inter Milan to work with Antonio Conte. However, for the Italian manager, he could be set to miss out on the 26-year-old forward for the second time in three years with their great rivals Juventus now in the chase.
At this juncture it does feel as though the Old Lady are ahead in the race as they've thrown a Paulo Dybala-sized spanner into the works. Why they'd willingly throw in the superstar Argentine in a swap deal for Lukaku has left many baffled, but hey, United don't win transfers very often and this will be a rare treat for the Old Trafford faithful should Edward Woodward pull it off.
For Lukaku, there's simply no going back. The striker has gone past the point of no return and if a transfer doesn't materialise, he'll only be further marginalised upon his return to the Theatre of Dreams - or in his case, the Theatre of Nightmares...
Lukaku's head clearly isn't in it anymore. The fact that he hasn't played one minute of pre-season football is telling and it seems as though his early return to training was a mere front. The ex-Everton man is well within his rights to want a move away from United as he's too good to be playing second-fiddle, but with time running out in the window, solving this transfer puzzle is in the best interests of everyone involved.
United's 42-goal forward has no match fitness whatsoever. If he remains at Old Trafford, it'll take him a month or so (with regular football) to get fully up to speed. As we all know, there's little chance of Lukaku starting with any regularity so you can probably double that time-frame. With a man of his size and stature that would be a real issue. His first-touch and sharpness is sometimes lacking even when he's in tip-top condition.
Dressing rooms aren't stupid, players know when they've someone on their hands who no longer wants to be there. Do you think every single squad member would welcome Lukaku back with open arms? Homegrown lads like Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard would probably take offence to someone wanting to leave. It could well lead to the Belgian being (rightly or wrongly) ostracised by both players and manager. That's just the natural human reaction.
Credit to Woodward and the United board, though. They're remaining firm while refusing to be low-balled into parting with a player who still has enormous value. Be it Inter or Juventus, it does seem as though a transfer will happen over the next week. Heck, for Lukaku's sake I seriously hope the move materialises...