Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has claimed that his side can cope without Romelu Lukaku following the striker’s transfer to Inter.
He further emphasized that it was time for him to move on despite the lack of a replacement.
Lukaku joined the Serie A club on Thursday, the Premier League’s transfer deadline day, but there was no new arrival to take his place at Old Trafford before the window shut.
“It was time now for Romelu Lukaku to go. I think we got a good deal and he is happy so I think both parties ended that deal as it should be,” Solskjaer said.
While Solskjaer suggested Lukaku’s departure was inevitable, he will still be missed by United as no-one in the current squad comes close to matching his 42 goals in 96 appearances over the last two seasons.
The big Belgian is a proven striker and also has more than 100 Premier League goals to his name.
Romelu Lukaku has now scored as many Premier League goals as Didier Drogba.
• Drogba: 104 goals in 254 games
• Lukaku: 104 goals in 224 games
Parity with his idol. 👬 pic.twitter.com/upEIYiATba
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 2, 2018
Links with Juventus pair Paulo Dybala and Mario Mandzukic came to nothing, so Solskjaer has to go with what is already at his disposal.
It does leave the burning question; Can the Red Devils actually cope without the Belgian? If they can, who comes in place as his most likely replacement?
The England international is expected to lead Solksjaer’s attack in their Premier League opener against Chelsea on Sunday.
The 21-year-old started his United career playing on the left flank but has seen himself play as a makeshift centre forward in recent times.
His versatility has seen him capable of playing just about anywhere on the pitch bar defensive-minded positions.
His awareness and burst of pace made him a credible option upfront in times when the now-departed Belgian was unavailable or dropped due to tactical reasons.
He is now in pole position to lead United as the main striker this season.
But then, just how well has he performed upfront in recent times?
For the majority of last season, the young forward was deployed on the flanks until January where he was being deployed centrally.
He had a welcome introduction; scoring a goal each in his first three games as a striker.
Since then, it’s been a gloomy story. The England international went on to feature 13 more times for United till the end of the season; with ten of those games played up front as a striker.
He could only manage two goals in the process which is a worrying average of one goal in 5 games. The Belgian he’s set to replace scored 6 more goals than the England International despite seeing less game time and appearances in the process.
Make of that what you will, but United do look like they could still do with re-signing a certain Romelu Lukaku (sorry that’s not happening).
Not much of a household name; yet, but there could be more opportunities for 17-year-old Mason Greenwood.
The youngster has impressed in pre-season and Solskjaer expects him to become an integral part of the first-team squad.
Regardless of who features upfront, Solskjaer believes there are enough goals in his team to challenge for a place in the top four.
“Of course Rom has a good record. The stats say he is one of the top number nines around when you want to play with that kind of target man striker,” he said.
“But for me, I am very confident that we’ll get goals from Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. Daniel James will create and Jesse Lingard will get more goals too.”
Stakes are on the Norwegian manager for making such a bold claim and we’ll just have to see how right he is over the course of the season.