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09th Jul 2017

Romelu Lukaku reveals why he chose Manchester United over a return to Chelsea

Medical is complete

Darragh Murphy

As the sun rose on Thursday morning, the immediate transfer outcomes for both Manchester United and Chelsea seemed clear.

Alvaro Morata was expected to sign for United within hours while the Blues’ pursuit of the Belgian was said to have been successful.

Over the span of the morning, everything changed and Lukaku to Old Trafford was very much on.

The news broke while the then-Everton forward was on holiday with United midfielder Paul Pogba and the deal was done in time for Lukaku to make it on the Red Devils’ preseason tour of the United States.

With a former club aggressively trying to bring him on board, Lukaku had a call to make and in his first interview since agreeing a deal with United, the 24-year-old explained how he arrived at the decision.

“This is an opportunity that I’ve always wanted since I was a child,” Lukaku told ESPN FC.

“When [Manchester United] came calling, I didn’t have to think twice. So I’m really delighted to hopefully be part of their history.”

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte was reportedly furious after learning that his top target had decided to go elsewhere but Lukaku has explained how he simply could not row back on his word.

“My mind was already set. I gave my word, and I don’t look back,” he added. “I didn’t look back since, and I was already mentally preparing to be part of the team.”

Certain eyebrows were raised when the forward opted to sign for United, who finished last season in sixth place, rather than join the reigning Premier League champions.

But for those cynics, Lukaku has a resounding message.

He continued: “I would say, ‘Who would say no to the biggest club in the world?’

“Best stadium in England. The best fans. This is the perfect opportunity. I always said I wanted to play for a team that’s challenging for every trophy that there is.

“I think Manchester United at the minute wants to be the dominant team, that dominant force. If you look at their history, it says enough. To become part of a club like them is something that I really wanted. I’m thankful for the opportunity that they gave me.”

Lukaku was on the Chelsea books during Jose Mourinho’s second spell as Blues boss but the player could not convince Mourinho to give him a chance in the first team and he was eventually sold to Everton in July, 2014 following a successful season-long loan at Goodison Park.

The Belgium international has developed into one of the most feared front-men in Europe since those early days at Chelsea and finished last season as the second top goalscorer in the Premier League, behind only Spurs’ Harry Kane.

And now that he’s entering his prime as a player, Lukaku is looking forward to a reunion with Mourinho.

“[Mourinho is] a guy who I wanted to play for since I was 10 years old, so now to have the opportunity to work under him again is great,” Lukaku said.

“We’ve been in contact. He explained to me how the club was like, what he expects from me.

“You know, we were together under different circumstances. Obviously, the first time when I met him, I was still a young kid, and I was eager to play. And he understood my decision why I left at the time. I returned on the pitch.

“Now I’m 24. I’m a grown man. He sees the maturity that has grown throughout the years, so I’m really thankful for the opportunity he gave me again.”