MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said he has got a stronger forward line for the new season despite sanctioning the £74 million sale of Romelu Lukaku.
United have brought in £15m Swansea winger Daniel James and promoted 17-year-old Mason Greenwood into the first team, but did not sign a direct replacement for Lukaku during the window. The club were linked with a deadline day move for Mario Mandzukic from Juventus but the forward proved to be too expensive.
Solskjaer, however, said he believes the window has left his squad better off.
“Rom has a good record and stats — he’s one of the top No. 9s around when you want to play with that kind of striker, a target man,” Solskjaer told a news conference at Carrington on Friday.
“Mason Greenwood’s pathway would have been a lot more different if we had another forward there and I believe Mason is going to be playing and involved a lot and when he is he’s going to score goals.”
Lukaku averaged close to a goal every two games during his two years at Old Trafford while Rashford and Martial have averaged nearly a goal every four games across their United careers. Greenwood scored twice during the preseason tour of Australian and the Far East but has made just one senior start.
But despite the lack of goals and experience in the Belgium forward’s absence, Solskjaer says Lukaku had to go.
“It was time now for Rom to go because I think we got a good deal,” Solskjaer said.
“He’s happy so I think both parties ended that deal as it should be. Rom was injured for a while this preseason. He didn’t participate so I just hope for him he’ll get a good start at Inter Milan.
“I have always had a good relationship with Rom, open and honest. We’ve spoken to each other openly and frankly and have no issue between me and Rom.”
Alexis Sanchez has not featured during preseason because of his Copa America commitments and despite speculation about his long-term future, Solskjaer expects his to stay.
The Norwegian splashed £148m on James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire during the summer window but there is still a feeling among fans that the squad is short of quality and numbers, particularly in midfield after Ander Herrera‘s departure to Paris Saint-Germain.
“That’s not the feeling inside the club,” Solskjaer said. “The feeling with the fans I’ve met, they are excited with the ones we’ve brought in.
“There are always going to be fans out there wanting to sign players, that’s part and parcel of being here. The players are here now and have been shown that we trust them and we believe in them.”