Manchester United are closing in on signing Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid. Morata’s transfer fee to United will affect Chelsea’s final negotiations for Romelu Lukaku.
After several weeks of a potential battle for Romelu Lukaku and Alvaro Morata, Chelsea and Manchester United appear to be targeting their negotiations towards their preferred option. Lukaku and the Blues supposedly only need to agree on personal terms to finalize his return to Stamford Bridge. Meanwhile, United are set to tender a £60 million bid for Morata.
Both Morata and United want the transfer concluded before the window opens on July 1. Real Madrid will try to use the sense of urgency to extract a larger fee from United, perhaps up to £70 million.
Even though the two clubs may no longer be competing for the same signatures, all parties involved will be watching the rest of the business carefully. Depending on the details of the Morata transfer, Chelsea and Everton may attempt to shape the inevitable signing a bit more to their liking.
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Alvaro Morata is a two-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, with one runner-up finish at Juventus as well. He is a proven star in two leagues and in the Champions League. Chelsea will contrast his European accomplishments against Romelu Lukaku’s more limited experience.
For as much as Lukaku has done at Everton, he has only done it at Everton. He has little European experience, and does not have the range of technique and tactical acumen that comes form excelling in two leagues.
Chelsea, then, could argue that Morata’s fee sets an upper limit for what they should pay for Lukaku. Everton, though, will flip the script on Lukaku’s experience. They will point out that his style of play – let alone his physicality – makes him a better addition to the Premier League than Morata.
Lukaku has demonstrated his ability to play at a high level of performance for many more games per season than Morata. Lukaku played over 30 games in each of four seasons at Everton. Morata has had only one season with more than 30 games, that coming at Juventus. And despite not having Morata’s Champions League pedigree, Lukaku scored eight goals in nine Europa League appearances for Everton in 2014/15.
Everton may also point out that Romelu Lukaku is a “homegrown player.” He therefore fills a vital role on Chelsea’s roster. This helps ensure Chelsea hit their administrative wickets, opening the door for other non-homegrown transfers.
Everton, then, could see Morata’s transfer fee as the floor. They were already demanding anywhere from £60-80 million depending on the day and the rumour. A £70 fee for Morata could cause Chelsea to approach a record signing to bring Lukaku back.
If Manchester United does what Manchester United tends to do and overpays for Morata, Chelsea may wish they had pushed for a firm commitment on Lukaku’s terms earlier.