Manchester United transfer news: Jose Mourinho is targeting a new number nine
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s knee injury, which is likely to keep him out until the New Year has, has changed Jose Mourinho’s summer transfer priorities.
And it is understood from sources close to the club that Lukaku is now the man Mourinho wants to spearhead his United attack.
He originally wanted the diminutive but pacy Griezmann to play off Ibrahimovic but now the Swede is out of the equation the priority is to find a new, out and out No 9.
And Everton star Lukaku, who has scored over 100 goals in the last four seasons, is the player at the top of United's list even though they face stiff competition from Chelsea.
Torino’s Andrea Belotti and Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata also fit the profile for United while they could attempt to hijack Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s proposed move from Borussia Dortmund to Paris Saint-Germain.
Golden Boot winner Harry Kane is hugely admired at Old Trafford but is out of the equation because Tottenham simply will not sell their star striker.
Star players Manchester United could target instead of Antoine Griezmann Fri, May 26, 2017
Who could Manchester United sign instead of Antoine Griezmann
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Manchester United have cooled their interest in Antoine Griezmann
Mourinho has always liked to play with a traditional target man. He had Didier Drogba in his first spell at Chelsea, Ibrahimovic and Diego Milito at Inter Milan, Karim Benzema at Real Madrid, Diego Costa in his second Chelsea spell before his re-union with Ibrahimovic at Old Trafford last summer.
The Swedish veteran struck 28 goals until his season was cut short when he ruptured the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments in his right knee during the Europa League quarter final, second leg against Anderlecht at Old Trafford on April 20.
Mourinho had set his sights on signing long-target Griezmann from Atletico Madrid and United were ready to trigger the £87m release clause in his contract to bring the France international to Old Trafford.
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But spending big money on a new No 9 is now the priority.
Sources say United retain an interest in Griezmann and could make a move for him in the future but it will not happen this summer.
Antoine Griezmann may miss out on a move to Manchester United
They feel they have plenty of players like Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Juan Mata and Paul Pogba who can play off a main striker.
Ironically, Mourinho sold Lukaku to Everton for £28m during his second spell as Chelsea boss because he couldn’t give him a regular first team football.
Now Everton are demanding £100m for the Belgium striker.
Belotti, 23, has risen to prominence in Italy this season with 27 goals in 32 games for Torino while Morata has scored 20 goals in 42 appearances for Real but remains behind the likes of Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo in the pecking order at the Bernabeu.
Ronaldo, 32, who will be bidding for a fourth Champions League medal when Real face Juventus in the final Cardiff on Saturday, sparked fresh rumours about a potential return to Old Trafford this week when admitting he missed England and was frustrated at being jeered on occasion by Real fans.
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“I spent a lot of years at Manchester United and it [home fans booing] never happened to me. Not even once,” Ronaldo told Spanish TV station La Sexta.
“Maybe England is a case apart, the mentality is different. I’m very happy being in Spain but obviously I also miss England because you can’t just turn off the memories.”
His Real team-mate Gareth Bale continues to be linked with United although neither he or Ronaldo fit the specific No 9 profile Untied are looking for, quite apart from the fact that Real would not consider selling either of them.
While Lukaku's agent Mino Raiola revealed they had an agreement with Everton, allowing him to leave the club this summer.
Raiola said yesterday: “Lukaku had a promise that if certain clubs came this summer that he could leave this summer.
"We are not in concrete talks with anybody at this moment, but hearing the market I think some clubs will contact Everton
"If the price is right for Everton and the project is right for Lukaku then I think he will want to make another step, but we are not there yet."