Let’s get something straight from the off. I am extremely skeptical regarding Romelu Lukaku’s attitude. Nevertheless, for Manchester United, the deal makes sense. The crazy happened afterwards.
When the announcement came, the media expressed surprise, as though the transfer had come out of the blue. Apparently, journalists have short memories.
In April, Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s United career, if such a term can be applied to an eight month stay, ended rupturously. You can put the dictionary away because that’s not a real world. I freely admit, under no duress, that it is my own invention. You have to admit, though, it describes what happened to the Swede’s right knee ligaments during the April 20th Europa League match against Anderlecht far more elegantly than Ibra’s landing. The cruciate point, however, is that Zlatan would be out of contract in the summer and unavailable until January. It made no sense for United to pick up its option to extend his deal. Therefore, the club required a new striker.
Lukaku was among the first options mooted. He was big and strong like Ibra. Younger and more mobile in the bargain. Consensus also held he’d gone as far as Everton could take him. No one asked the equally significant question: whether he might take the Toffees further? But we’ll get to that in a bit. The bruising Belgian had finished second only to Harry Kane in the Premier League scoring race. It was a given he was ready to play for an established title contender. United had the greatest need, considering Antonio Conte had yet to send his Dear John tweet to Diego Costa and Alexis Sanchez’s exit from Arsenal was still highly speculative.
A fortnight before Ibra went down, no less than three It’s Round and White contributors had waxed poetic on Lukaku’s beatitudes. When one linked him to United, I felt compelled to intervene. His petulant shush, aimed at club captain Ashley Williams during Everton’s one-goal draw with United at Goodison Park, revealed which he respected more between himself and his club.
Leading one’s team to greater heights, as Lukaku clearly has the ability to do, cannot be accomplished when you consider your teammates to be beneath you. That ‘all about the me’ perspective is what led Jose Mourinho to rely on Ibrahimovic and Diego Milito at Inter, while marginalising Mario Balotelli. With Lukaku coming to Old Trafford for £75 million, how does the Portuguese expect to adjust his attitude while chasing a Premier League title?
On the other hand, a self-centered footballer with an overblown sense of his own worth is nothing compared to a world filled with people who have no clue about others. So, when the agreement was reported on Friday (7 July), people on both sides of the Atlantic revealed their true colours.
Lukaku was in Los Angeles when the deal was culminated, winding down a sunny holiday. Many footballers vacay in SoCal during the off season. Ronaldo has been seen there. He even took a side trip to Vegas to hang out with Conor McGregor. Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil chilled with City’s Leroy Sane and Liverpool’s Emre Can both this year and last. And why not? You can enjoy the sun, surf, Hollywood nightlife, and, if you’re a forward thinker, look into the LA Galaxy MLS retirement package with the introductory video featuring David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, and Robbie Keane.
Earlier in the week, Paul Pogba had joined Lukaku. The pair had trained together and played a little five-aside to ease back into mid-season form. When the deal went public, Lukaku visited his friend and new teammate poolside to share the news in person, then on Twitter.
Lukaku “See you tomorrow in training.”
Pogba: “What?! Are you serious?!”
Lukaku: “Yes, training tomorrow!”pic.twitter.com/9NE1jIUCXO
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) July 8, 2017
Afterwards, the Belgian decided to celebrate. Again, why not? At only 24, he has set himself up for life by reaching level two, or maybe three, in the six-figure Premier League income bracket. He’s going to arguably the world’s biggest, wealthiest club. So, he partied the day away. That’s right, the day. Not the night. After all, he had training the following morning.
Unfortunately, Lukaku chose to have that party in a rented house in Beverly Hills. Even on a weekday, all the rich white folk are home, loving their peace and quiet. A continual sonic boom of hip-hop is, shall we say, not their thing.
The police were called. The volume was lowered while they were present. Lukaku was politely warned. When the officers left, he cranked up the volume yet again.
The police returned. Again, they exercised courtesy in requesting Lukaku respect the neighbours. When they left, he decided to…
On their fifth or sixth visit, depending on who’s telling, the police put the cuffs on Lukaku, wrote him a citation, removed the cuffs, then firmly advised the Belgian to leave the volume button on three, or better yet, pass out headphones.
Perhaps you think that it was somewhat bigoted for the real white folks of Beverly Hills to poop Romelu’s party? Maybe they could have had their proctologists remove the sticks from their butts and put up with a bit of midday noise? TGIF, mutha—. Perhaps you would be right.
But the journalists at every paper in the UK were just as clued out to a different culture as the Beverly Hills Billionaire Club. Every piece of fish wrap with a dot-CO-dot-UK url reported Lukaku had been arrested.
Understand, he was not. He will have to appear in court in October, or have a high-priced lawyer ask for a continuance by proxy. But, under no circumstances was he arrested. He did not go to jail, directly or indirectly. He was able to pass Go to be at United training on Saturday morning. He will likely collect over £200,000 per week for the foreseeable future. Yet, the internet was ablaze with headlines suggesting new Manchester United signing Romelu Lukaku had been incarcerated for hosting an excessively loud tea. Talk about your fake news.
I’m telling you, the world is crazy.