Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has explained the club’s decision not to buy a replacement for Romelu Lukaku, who joined Inter in an €80m (£74m/$90m) transfer on Thursday, stating that he feels the Belgian’s goals will be replaced by other attackers in the team.
Lukaku was signed under Solskjaer’s predecessor, Jose Mourinho, and while he did score 28 goals in 66 Premier League matches for the Red Devils, he was often accused of failing to show up against stronger teams.
Indeed, Marcus Rashford was the preferred starting option towards the end of the 2018-19 season, playing a part in Lukaku’s decision to take on a new challenge under Antonio Conte’s Nerazzurri in Serie A.
United did not sign a replacement striker in the summer window, however, and Solskjaer explained that the club are taking a different attacking approach, and insisted there was never a breakdown in the relationship between the player and his boss.
“Of course Rom has a good record and stats – he’s one of the top number nines around when you want to play with that kind of striker – he’s a target man,” the Norwegian told a press conference on Friday.
“[But] for me, I’m very confident that we’ll get goals from [Anthony] Martial, Rashford… Dan James will come in and create, Jesse Lingard will get more. We have a different attacking set-up this season.
“It was time for Rom to go because I think we got a good deal,” Solskjaer added. “He’s happy so I think both parties ended that deal as it should be. Rom was injured for a while in pre-season and didn’t participate so I just hope for him he’ll get a good start at Inter.
“I have always had a good relationship with Rom, open and honest. We’ve spoken to each other openly and frankly and I have no issue with him at all. But now, whoever’s in here, we’re very happy with them.”
With United preparing for their first Premier League match of the season on Sunday, some have been wondering whether young talent Mason Greenwood will play a part in the campaign and Solskjaer says that the starlet will get plenty of chances to impress.
“Towards the end of last season, we didn’t score a lot of goals did we? We have players that we think will make an impact and Mason’s pathway would have been a lot more difficult if we had another forward.
“For me, I believe that Mason is going to be playing and involved a lot – and when he is he will score goals.”
Another attacking option at the manager’s disposal is Alexis Sanchez, who has thus far failed to hit the kind of form that earned him a move to Old Trafford from Arsenal. Solskjaer, however, expects the Chilean to find the net with more regularity this term.
“Alexis has come in and trained well,” he said. “He’s four or five weeks behind the boys and has not played apart from the one behind closed doors here, so I think he’ll see this as an opportunity as well to make his mark.
“I do expect him to stay, there’s a striker there we think is going to be able to score some goals.”