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Chelsea and Manchester United have both offered about £75m for Everton striker Romelu Lukaku.
Senior United sources told the BBC on Thursday that they had made a bid for the 24-year-old Belgium international.
And it has now emerged Chelsea moved to re-sign Lukaku, who played for the Blues before moving to Everton for £28m in July 2014, earlier this week.
However, they are not willing to match the fees Lukaku’s agent Mino Raiola would earn if the forward joins United.
Lukaku was 18 when he signed for current Premier League champions Chelsea in August 2011 from Anderlecht for a fee reported to be around £20m.
“I dreamed to play here since I was 10 years old. It was just what I was searching for,” he said at the time.
“I used to watch Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scoring goals and remember one against Manchester United, the volley at Old Trafford, and I decided I wanted to support this team.”
However, Lukaku made just one Premier League start at Chelsea and spent time on loan at West Bromwich Albion and Everton before sealing a permanent move to Goodison Park.
Lukaku has been long-term United target
United, managed by former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, have been chasing Lukaku for most of the summer.
The Old Trafford club are hopeful of concluding a deal in time for the player to join the squad before they depart for a pre-season tour to the United States on Sunday.
The striker was on a list of forward options Mourinho gave to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward before the end of last season.
Raiola also looks after Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan – three players all signed by United last summer.
The Belgian turned down the most lucrative contract offer in Everton’s history in March and later said: “I don’t want to stay at the same level. I want to improve and I know where I want to do that.”
Lukaku in stats
- With a double against Hull City in March, Lukaku became the first Everton player since Gary Lineker in 1985-86 to hit 20 league goals in a season.
- Lukaku is also only the fourth player to score more than 80 goals in the Premier League before turning 24 (also Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler and Wayne Rooney).
- He has also scored more goals than any other Everton player in Premier League history (68).
- Lukaku is one of only three players to have scored more than 10 goals in each of the last five Premier League seasons (alongside Olivier Giroud and Sergio Aguero).
Top five world record transfers
- £89m – Paul Pogba – Juventus to Manchester United, 2016
- £86m – Gareth Bale – Tottenham to Real Madrid, 2013
- £80m – Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United to Real Madrid, 2009
- £75.3m – Gonzalo Higuain – Napoli to Juventus, 2016
- £75m – Luis Suarez – Liverpool to Barcelona, 2014
Top five British transfer records
- £50m – Fernando Torres – Liverpool to Chelsea, 2011
- £47.5m – John Stones – Everton to Manchester City, 2016
- £44m – Raheem Sterling – Liverpool to Manchester City, 2015
- £37.1m – Juan Mata – Chelsea to Manchester United, 2014
- £35m – Andy Carroll – Newcastle to Liverpool, 2011
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