Romelu Lukaku has confirmed he will be joining Manchester United from Everton.
Pre-empting an official announcement by the clubs, the Belgium striker said in an interview with ESPN that he chose United despite a late offer from Premier League champion Chelsea, his former team.
“My mind was already set,” the 24-year-old Lukaku said. “I gave my word, and I don’t look back … I was already mentally preparing to be part of the team.”
Lukaku had a medical examination Saturday in Los Angeles, where he is currently on vacation. He is set to move for $ 97 million US.
He said he spoke to close friend Paul Pogba, the United midfielder and world’s most expensive player, about the move.
“He [Pogba] was explaining to me how it went at the club, and it triggered something in my head,” Lukaku said. “When the opportunity came, I didn’t have to think twice. I’m really excited.”
Rooney goes the other way
In a statement, Manchester United confirmed that former England captain Wayne Rooney would rejoin Everton after 13 years at Old Trafford.
Everton says Rooney signed a two-year contract.
Rooney moved from Everton to United for 27 million pounds in 2004 and went on to become United’s all-time top scorer. He is also England’s record scorer. The 31-year-old Rooney lost his place in United’s team last season in Jose Mourinho’s first year in charge.
Lukaku, a powerfully built, 6-foot-3 (1.90-meter) striker, links for a second time with Mourinho, who sold the player to Everton in 2014 when at Chelsea. Lukaku had failed to establish a first-team place at Chelsea and had to spend most of his time on loan, first at West Bromwich Albion and then Everton.
“You know, we were together under different circumstances,” Lukaku said. “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.”
Bolstering his strike force has been a priority for Mourinho ahead of his second season in charge at United after Zlatan Ibrahimovic was released.
Lukaku was the second highest scorer in the Premier League last season, netting 25 goals as Everton finished seventh in the standings. United was a place higher but still qualified for the Champions League by winning the Europa League.
Police said Saturday that Lukaku was arrested at a house he was staying at in Beverly Hills after officers warned him five times to turn down the music at a party. Lukaku was scheduled to appear in Los Angeles Superior Court on Oct. 2.
United plays the LA Galaxy in a preseason friendly next weekend.