Lukaku 'knew for a while' that Ibrahimovic return to Man Utd was coming

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The Belgian moved to Old Trafford for £75 million this summer knowing that he would be joined at some stage by the enigmatic Swedish striker

Romelu Lukaku claims he had known in advance that Manchester United would be putting fresh terms to Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

With the Swede among those released at the end of the 2016-17 campaign, and the 35-year-old recovering from knee surgery, it was suggested that Old Trafford may have seen the last of his enigmatic talents.

Red Devils 10/1 to be Kings of Europe

Jose Mourinho was, however, happy to keep a close eye on his recovery – as Ibrahimovic spent time at United’s Carrington training base – and eventually saw enough to justify another short-term deal.

News of that agreement came as no surprise to Lukaku, who admits that he was always aware that his £75 million move from Everton would be complemented by the return of another proven frontman.

Lukaku told reporters after netting a hat-trick for Belgium in World Cup qualification on Thursday: "I already knew for a while that Zlatan would sign but I didn't tell anyone.

"I'm happy. We need his personality.

"I think Zlatan will bring us a lot. I think he has one mission, and that is to win the Premier League, and we’re going to help him reach his goal."

It remains to be seen whether Lukaku and Ibrahimovic will be used in tandem once the latter is ready for a return to action in January, but Mourinho has hinted that he would be prepared to pair them together and avoid the need to find another striking option in the next transfer window.

Romelu Lukaku Zlatan Ibrahimovic title target

He said on his high-profile frontmen: "In this moment they can speak on the phone that is all they can do.

"Not even face-to-face because [Ibrahimovic] is not here.

"I see Zlatan as important for the team. I just say that my squad is better for sure, he is one more option, he is one more striker, he is one more experienced player, he is one more player that can play nine or 10, that can play double strikers or no, there are lots of matches to play.

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"If we progress in the Champions League and if we progress in one of the cups, I don’t even say both, if we do that we are going to be in the position where we couldn’t do it only with Lukaku and Rashford, especially if I play both together, because if I play one and the other one is on the bench, okay, but I am playing with both?

"So if I play with both, I need a striker, so probably in January I would be knocking on Ed Woodward’s door asking for a striker for the second part of the season and I don’t need to. I have one of the best in the world."

Lukaku has made a bright start to his time at Old Trafford, with four goals netted in as many competitive appearances to date – including three in three in the Premier League to help the Red Devils set the early pace.

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