Joel Pereira

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Romelu Lukaku left out of Man United squad

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Romelu Lukaku has yet to feature for Manchester United in preseason and speculating regarding his future at Old Trafford will continue to swirl.

The Belgian star was left out of United’s 26-man squad for their trip to Norway to play Kristiansund on Tuesday, and there was no reason given for his absence on the club website.

Lukaku, 26, has been linked with moves to Italian giants Juventus and Inter Milan throughout the summer and it appears the end-game is near.

Reports suggest that Juve will offer Paulo Dybala for Lukaku, while Inter have been negotiating with United for some time but the Red Devils are said to want over $90 million for their Belgian striker and Antonio Conte‘s side are yet to offer anywhere near that.

An extra caveat to all of this is that Lukaku traveled with United to Australia and China for their lengthy preseason tour but didn’t play a single second due to a minor injury.

He could often be seen training on his own or working out on an excercise bike in the gym, as his future remains up in the air.

Do United need him?

Given his penchant as a proven goalscorer, you always need those around. But given the fact that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants young, speedy strikers and he has a lot of them, Lukaku’s skillset makes him surplus to requirements right off the bat.

We saw him chucked out wide at times during the second half of last season and although he caused problems in that role, he never looked comfortable. Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and youngsters Dan James and Mason Greenwood looked more natural fits for United’s new high-octane playing style.

Lukaku has talked about his love for Serie A on multiple occasions and it appears his time in the Premier League is about to come to an end.

When we look back on his United career, 42 goals in 96 appearances isn’t a bad record at all. But it doesn’t tell the whole story.

His hold-up play didn’t improve much, neither did his record against the top six clubs, and the lack of service he received — especially in the opening months of Jose Mourinho’s final season in charge — saw him frustrated so when chances did arrive he snatched at them.

Along with Paul Pogba, Lukaku always seemed to be under pressure at United and it seems close to the mark to say both have been too inconsistent over the past few seasons.

Here is United’s squad in full for the trop to Norway

David De Gea, Lee Grant, Joel Pereira, Sergio Romero; Diogo Dalot, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Axel Tuanzebe, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Ashley Young; Fred, Angel Gomes, Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Andreas Pereira, Paul Pogba; Tahith Chong, Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford.

Mourinho: They’re not ready, but batch of youngsters play; Pogba, too

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Manchester United takes pride in bringing kids into the top team, but rarely like this.

And imagine if Sunday’s tilt against Crystal Palace still mattered for the relegation race!

Jose Mourinho is going to toss a whole bunch of young players into his XI on Sunday against Crystal Palace, giving the Old Trafford crowd a look at several intriguing names including 20-year-old goalkeeper Joel Pereira.

[ WENGER: Decision soon after FA Cup Final ]

Paul Pogba will play a bit and Wayne Rooney probably will not as United prepares for Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League final against Ajax in Sweden.

Mourinho admits the kids aren’t ready for this particular experience. From Sky Sports:

Joel and O’Hara. Mitchell. Harrop. Gomes. McTominay. Fosu-Mensah. Axel. Lots of them together, no. I will bring three or four first team players to play one half where I can give some experience to the team.”

Are they ready?

“No. One in the middle of a good structure, a dynamic and experienced structure, yes. Lots of them together, no.”

Axel Tuanzebe has played the last couple games for United, and Timothy Fosu-Mensah has made 20 combined appearances over the last two seasons.

As for Pogba, whose father passed away before last weekend’s match at Arsenal.

“Paul is fine. Strong guy, strong mentality. He is learning how to live after his father passed away but he is strong and he knows he needs to play next Sunday because he doesn’t play, train for a long time and he needs these minutes on the pitch. He plays against Palace.”

Mourinho on Romero’s day, Man Utd’s GKs: “We’re in safe gloves”

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Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is raving about Sergio Romero and his goalkeepers after the backstop prodded his side to a 0-0 draw against Southampton at St. Mary’s on Wednesday.

He also issued good news on Marouane Fellaini, who left the match with a leg injury.

“It’s not a tear, and his experience gives us confidence. But he had a little bad feeling.”

[ RECAP: Saints 0-0 Man Utd ]

As for Romero, who stopped a penalty and made some fantastic flying parries, Mourinho said the goalkeeper had a “more than very good game” against Saints. He lobbied hard for Romero, David De Gea, and third-string keeper Joel Pereira:

“He’s Argentina national goalkeeper and (we have) Spanish national team goalkeeper. Two of the best national teams in the world with good traditions of goalkeepers in both countries. These two guys are phenomenal and the Portuguese kid is a very good goalkeeper. So in relation to that we are in safe gloves.”

Oh, that witty man.

Mourinho also said the season’s success does not hinge on Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League Final against Ajax because one unlucky break could happen, and shouldn’t be allowed to ruin a season.

He’s right, but he’s also gambled on the UEL over the Premier League as a route to the Champions League. I think it’s the right risk, but many who agree with that will change their minds if Ajax finds a way past the Red Devils in Sweden.