Why Romelu Lukaku Is The Next Best Option For Manchester United Now That Griezmann Deal has Fallen Through
Manchester United have been dealt a hammerblow in their pursuit of Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann. The 26-year old France international has been pursued by the Red Devils since January in a long transfer saga, but the pursuit may have come to an end now.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld the transfer ban on Atletico which was imposed on them by FIFA for violation of rules of underage player signings. The upholding of the transfer meant Atletico will not be able to register new players for a period of two transfer windows, leaving them in a position where they cannot afford to sell their current players, putting an end to United’s hopes of signing Griezmann.
Griezmann himself took to social media soon after the verdict was announced to reiterate that he will not be leaving in the summer. He posted a picture with a message that read, “Now more than ever! #atleti #alltogether,” to silence all the speculations for good.
That leaves United in a difficult position as they were extremely intent on signing Griezmann in the summer and were even willing to meet his €100million (£87 million) release clause too.
The Red Devils have had a fairly successful first season under new boss Jose Mourinho, despite finishing 6th in the Premier League as they managed to get their hands on three pieces of silver – the FA Community Shield, EFL Cup and the UEFA Europa League, which also guaranteed them a safe passage into the group stages of the UEFA Champions League for next season.
But their profligacy in front of goal has been well documented. Had they managed to be more clinical in front of goal, their final league position would have been much higher without a doubt. Apart from last summer’s signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, no other United player managed to reach double figures in their Premier League goal tally. The giant Swede finished the season with 17 league goals and 28 across all competitions. The second best was teenage sensation Marcus Rashford with 11 strikes in all competitions, followed by Juan Mata and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, with both scoring 10 apiece.
With nothing certain about Ibrahimovic’s future at the club, a top-class striker is the need of the hour for United. This has been a major cause of concern for Mourinhoand had identified Griezmann as the ideal solution. But with a move for the Frenchman as good as dead, he will need to look for an alternative.
The answer that he will be looking for could be Everton’s Romelu Lukaku. The 24-year old Belgian international finished the season as the second highest goalscorer in the Premier League with 25 goals, only beaten by a Harry Kane blitzkrieg late in the season.
Having joined Chelsea from native club RSC Anderlecht back in 2011, Lukaku did not get a lot of opportunities to prove his mettle at the Stamford Bridge, but he was brilliant in his loan spells with West Bromwich Albion (12/13 season) and Everton (13/14 season), before making a permanent move to the Goodison Park in the summer of 2014.
Till date, Lukaku has managed to score a whopping 85 goals from a total 186 appearances, including his time at Chelsea, West Brom and Everton. Since his move to the Merseyside, Lukaku has developed into one of the most lethal forwards in the Premier League. He has the brute force, the power and the physicality to bully any defender and also has the pace to match it, that allows him to run behind the backlines. An excellent finisher, with either feet and a brilliant header of the ball as well, Lukaku is one of the most complete forwards around.
One complaint that is often leveled against him is the fact that he goes missing in the big games. He seems to lack the big-game temperament. While that is not completely false, it is something that he can definitely be improved and the fact that he will be surrounded by some of the top class footballers at the Old Trafford will certainly help him do away with his big game blues.
With Griezmann unavailable, Romelu Lukaku could be the perfect solution for Manchester United as he has already proved himself as a goalscorer in the Premier League. He would be a readymade striker for Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United squad. Hence, Mourinho should seal the deal for the Belgian as soon as possible.