Manchester United continued their spending spree with the acquisition of Everton striker Romelu Lukaku. The 24-year-old Belgian Red Devil cost these Red Devils £75m with that fee potentially ballooning to nearly £90m in incentives. Last year’s second leading EPL scorer will be a more than adequate replacement for the departing Zlatan Ibrahimovic. But while replacing Ibra is a huge ask, Lukaku’s arrival spells the end for Wayne Rooney as a member of Manchester United. However, Wazza’s exit is just one of many ripple effects that Lukaku’s signing will have on European football in 2017-18.
WAYNE ROONEY TO EVERTON
We’ll start with the aforementioned Rooney transfer. It isn’t a straight swap by any stretch of the imagination, but Rooney’s move back to Everton was assisted by Manchester United getting Lukaku. Man U had been asking for a fee in the £10m for Rooney in the early parts of summer. There were several inquiries made by Chinese and American outlets, but nothing concrete was locked down. A move within the Premier League was Rooney’s preference. With that being said, Everton was the most logical landing spot. Rooney began his career on the blue half of Merseyside before getting his move to Manchester. The fact that this was a free transfer leads me to believe that it was a dual thank you: 1) To Rooney for being a legendary figure for the club and 2) To Everton for not selling Lukaku to Chelsea. Speaking of Chelsea…
ALVARO MORATA TO CHELSEA
With Lukaku spurning them, Chelsea is scrambling for a Plan B. Diego Costa isn’t reporting to preseason training. Whether he wants to stay or go is a point of confusion and debate at Stamford Bridge. The strongest link for the Blues is one who not too recently was linked to Manchester United, Alvaro Morata. Antonio Conte knows the UCL winner well, having had the Spanish international on loan at Juventus. He isn’t the sexy option like Lukaku, but Morata is just a year older and slightly more cost effective at about £71m. He’s proven his worth for the biggest clubs in Italy and Spain, so a move to Chelsea wouldn’t faze him. Add in the previously noted link to Conte and there would be a minimal shock to the system. Even if Costa comes back for one more year, Morata will be your future up front. But say Diego goes exploring…
DIEGO COSTA TO ATLETICO MADRID
Even before Romelu Lukaku went to Manchester United, Diego Costa wanted out of Chelsea. He feels unwanted in London despite scoring 59 times in all competitions over three seasons. China has thrown ungodly sums at him, but Costa yearns for a return to Atletico Madrid over a big money move to Asia. There are hangups though. First, Atletico is in the midst of a transfer ban. Said ban was held up at the start of last month by the Court of Arbitration of Sport. Second, the two sides are miles apart in the striker’s valuation. Atleti are at £26.5mil with their offer while Chelsea wants at least double that amount. My money is on the two sides meeting somewhere in the middle and Costa is wearing white and red in January. But what will Chelsea add to their Morata haul with that freed up cash?
TIEMOUE BAKAYOKO TO CHELSEA
Finishing this small game of transfer one-upmanship is Tiemoue Bakayoko. At the start of the summer, the Monaco defensive midfielder was a near lock to be a Manchester United player. But he’s become Lukaku in reverse, as now Chelsea are the odds-on favorite for his signature. It is a fitting end to our tale as two men whose fates were seemingly never intertwined have now very much been just that. I’m just sad that this story doesn’t end with somebody going to Monaco to counteract the raid on the Champions League semi-finalists.
Transfer season in Europe always leads to chain reactions. But Romelu Lukaku’s move has set off a cycle that could span the rest of this window. As a fan of the Premier League, I hope that it keeps spinning until the final day.