One of the most interesting stories of this summer’s transfer window involves two of the biggest signings so far. Strikers Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku have both been sold for huge fees, but they could easily have ended up at different clubs.
Lukaku was strongly linked with a move to Chelsea early in the window, and it was reported that he was Antonio Conte’s first choice signing. However, it was Manchester United that won the race for his signature. The 24-year-old Belgian agreed terms on a five-year contract in early July, with Everton receiving £75 million for his transfer.
United had previously been negotiating with Real Madrid for the transfer of Morata. Although a deal looked close at one point, the two clubs couldn’t reach agreement on the fee. United turned their attention to the the big Belgian instead, and tied a deal up ahead of Chelsea.
This looked like bad news for Chelsea. Having told Diego Costa that he was no longer wanted at the club, they needed a big-name striker to replace him. They were soon linked with the likes of Sergio Aguero, Andrea Belotti and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but no deal materialized.
The story didn’t end there, though. In an amazing twist, Chelsea have now agreed a deal to sign Morata. Having missed out to Manchester United on their first choice, they’ve gone ahead and signed United’s first choice instead.
Naturally, fans of both clubs are already arguing about who has got the better deal. It’s an argument that may not be decided for a couple of years yet, and it will be interesting to see how things play out.
A key factor will be how well each player fits into their team. Chelsea and Manchester United both look strong heading into the new season, but they’re likely to play with very different styles. And although Lukaku and Morata play in the same position, they have contrasting skills.
Lukaku is an out and out goalscorer; a true number nine. He has the physique of a classic target man, and plays like one too. This is exactly what Manchester United need. They had no issues with creating chances last year, but they just weren’t clinical enough.
Even with the great Zlatan Ibrahimović leading the line, United were ultimately wasteful in front of goal last year. That’s why they drew so many games. If they can create chances as easily this year, Lukaku’s the player to put them away. He may not create much for his team mates, or add anything defensively, but he should be able to score plenty of goals.
Lukaku scored 25 league goals last season, from 36 starts. That’s an impressive scoring rate, especially considering the team he played for. Everton are not a poor side by any means, but they don’t have the same quality as United. It’s not unreasonable to think that Lukaku will score even more this season. Anyone who enjoys betting on soccer should seriously consider backing him to be top goalscorer. He looks like very good value at 5.5.
Morata is a different kind of striker. He can score goals too, of course, but he has much more to his game. His pace and trickery allow him to create chances out of nothing, and he has the ability to drop deep and link the midfield and attack. Although he’s not as lethal as Lukaku, his all-round game is unquestionably superior.
Is this the type of striker that Chelsea need though? They won the league with Costa as their main striker last year, and Lukaku is much more like the difficult striker than Morata is. The Spaniard, however, will bring something new to the team for sure, still, there are aspects of Costa’s game that he just won’t be able to replace.
Overall, it’s hard to argue against Lukaku being the better fit for his team. He also has the advantage of Premier League experience, which Morata obviously does not. Both sets of fans are no doubt delighted with their new striker, and they have every reason to be. It’s probably the United fans who’ll be the happiest at the end of the season though.