If anyone can help Manchester United get back to the top of English football, it is Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku. The 24-year-old left fellow Premier League side Everton for United earlier this month and he has adjusted quickly to life at Old Trafford.
Lukaku got his name on the scoresheet in United’s 2-1 victory against Real Salt Lake on just his second appearance for the Red Devils and he will be looking to enjoy a successful pre-season ahead of what could be a memorable campaign for Jose Mourinho’s men.
According to statistics collected from the official Premier League website, Lukaku has scored 85 goals in 182 top flight appearances – an impressive return. If the big Belgian can do that at Everton, who knows how good he could be at United.
With the right service and a quick start to life at the Theatre of Dreams, Lukaku might go on to win the Golden Boot award – an accolade won by Harry Kane in each of the last two years. The sky really is the limit for Lukaku at United and Red Devils fans are right to be excited.
With Lukaku signed up for the next five years and Marcus Rashford still developing, United have plenty of potential in attacking areas but Mourinho’s men need more if they are going to win the Premier League title.
Reports are suggesting that Zlatan Ibrahimović could return to the club for one more year if United are willing to take a punt on the Sweden icon. Zlatan quickly became a fan favourite at Old Trafford last season but a serious injury cut his time at the club short – although he could sign a new deal in the near future.
Daley Blind on Zlatan Ibrahimovic: “No doubt he would again be another big signing for United & last year he gave a big boost for the team.” pic.twitter.com/YazM5deFpW
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) July 19, 2017
If there is one thing that Ibrahimović guarantees, it is goals. You could claim that Lukaku and Zlatan are too similar but Mourinho will be licking his lips at the prospect of using both big men in the starting line-up.
Just imagine Ibrahimović and Lukaku leading the line for United next season; the Red Devils might be predictable in terms of style but goals would be an absolute certainty. Most supporters are expecting Lukaku to notch at least 20 goals next season and Ibrahimović’s impact should take some of the pressure off his shoulders.
But even with Zlatan, doubts remain over United’s ability to compete on multiple fronts. The Red Devils will need to juggle their Champions League commitments whilst laying down the gauntlet to their domestic rivals in England’s top flight.
Ivan Perisic’s impending arrival from Inter Milan will offer Mourinho a viable option on the wings. Rashford, Anthony Martial, and Juan Mata are capable of doing a job out wide but none are conventional wingers and Perisic should get the best out of Lukaku and Ibrahimovic.
The Red Devils must sign at least two or three more players to give themselves the greatest possible chance of winning silverware this campaign. Heading into the 2017/18 season, the Premier League title has to be Mourinho’s number one priority.
A good European run is an added bonus but winning the domestic crown for the first time since 2013 is the aim. United haven’t won the title since Sir Alex Ferguson retired and Mourinho will be desperate to bring the good times back to Old Trafford.
“We see the Stretford End arising” is a famous quote from one of United’s chants and the Old Trafford faithful will be expecting big things from Mourinho’s men this season.
However, with so many new players to slot in, it could take some time for the Red Devils to gel. At the time of writing, United are a 3/1 shot according to bookmakers on Oddschecker but it may prove prudent to check out any promotions, such as Coral’s free bet offer, before betting on United this campaign.
Defensively, United are fairly solid and Victor Lindelof’s arrival will offer some reassurance to supporters who were worried ahead of the new season. In Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, and now Lindelof, Mourinho has four competent central defenders at his disposal and the Red Devils will be hard to break down if all four play well.
Last term, United had the joint-best defensive record in England’s top flight and it would take a brave man to back against the Red Devils repeating that feat once again. David de Gea looks set to stay at Old Trafford for the foreseeable future and that can only be positive for United’s title chances.
So, who could United sign to bolster the squad further? The Red Devils have been linked with a move for Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan but he will come at a price. According to various sources, Roma will accept a fee of no lower than £60 million – a figure that might be a little high for United’s liking.
The Belgium star is talented, there’s no doubting that, but Ed Woodward won’t want to pay over the odds for yet another player. United have struggled to command respect in the transfer market in recent years and it might be time for the Red Devils to start holding out for a fairer deal.