Selling Romelu Lukaku is a good deal for both the player and Manchester United and it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Serie A looks to be the likely destination for the Belgian and it is probably what he needs after eight years in England.
Inter Milan, managed by Antonio Conte, lead the race for his signature. They are odds-on with Sky Bet while Juventus are also in the hunt at 4/1.
With United and Lukaku in Australia for pre-season, an imminent move looks unlikely but San Siro chiefs have reportedly travelled to meet Red Devils executives in an attempt to thrash out a deal, with the Italians said to prefer a loan with the obligation to buy.
Lukaku's summer transfer odds (via Sky Bet)
- Inter - 2/7
- Juventus - 4/1
- AC Milan - 20/1
- PSG - 20/1
Italian outlet Calcio Mercato says that Inter's hardball during negotiations with United to sell Ivan Perisic two years ago could be fresh in Ed Woodward's mind when he meets officials.
But there should be no reason for him refusing to budge. Rather, United should be happy to do a deal and here is why...
Style of play
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a clear style of play in mind for his team and, let's face it, Lukaku does not play the United way.
He showed in his Everton days how he can run in behind the defence with an impressive turn of pace for his 6 ft 2 inch frame. But at United his game has evolved - and not necessarily for the best.
He has bulked up in the last 18 months and seems to be more intent on holding up play with runners off him, and that is not part of his star qualities which earned him the reputation of a top Premier League striker.
He scored 15 and assisted four for his club in 2018/19, his lowest tally in seven seasons. He is regressing, not progressing as hoped at United.
His team-mates and a season of uncertainty has not helped, but Lukaku needs the shackles off and a new environment to return to his best and at the minute Old Trafford seems to be draining him of that.
Rashford and Martial
The £75m price United paid for Lukaku in 2017 made him automatically their first choice striker and you could see how their play was dictated by the Belgian's presence.
With Lukaku the main man in the middle, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial paid the price and were often pushed onto the wings as they looked to shoehorn their star men into the XI.
Rashford's development was arguably hindered by Jose Mourinho's preference to have him on the wing, or on the bench.
Rashford's games per goal career ratio in a central role is 2.81, whereas on the left wing it is 4.73, which shows how much more effective he is in his preferred area of the pitch.
It is no coincidence that Solskjaer's 15-match unbeaten domestic run as Manchester United manager came mostly with Rashford down the middle and without Lukaku.
With the England forward's direct and fearless approach, the Red Devils are quicker and more dangerous in attacks as they run at opposition defences.
Another key option in that style is Martial, who showed so much promise after arriving from Monaco in 2015.
He was another player whose progress and game time stuttered under Mourinho, albeit with some injuries too. He is still only 23 and the Frenchman can also use Lukaku's departure to flourish in a more central role, one where he impressed most for Monaco.
Martial's turn of pace should cause any Premier League defences issues on his day and his role with Rashford could become more significant without the emphasis of playing to suit Lukaku.
Lukaku's stock was sky high when he arrived two years ago, a player consistently delivering at Everton and ready for a step up.
It looked like a race between United and Chelsea, with Alvaro Morata going to the other club. Funnily enough, both players will have moved on this summer and, in hindsight, the switch may have worked out better for all parties if it was the other way around as they seem much more suited that way.
The Red Devils paid the Merseysiders £75million and the figures being touted for his potential sale suggest they could get most of that back, but a potential sticking point is the structuring of the payments.
Inter's preference is to loan him for one or two seasons, paying instalments along the way before completing the deal for around £63m in 2021. Not ideal, but Woodward has done worse in his spell as United chief.
They are unlikely to profit on Lukaku, but to nearly recoup the money paid on a striker whose two-year spell has been mixed overall, that's not bad going.
The only issue could be a premium on players if clubs know they have the cash to spend to replace him.
He wants to go
Without kicking up a huge fuss, it seems Lukaku has made it clear that he wants to join Conte at Inter.
It has been said that he will not go on strike or throw his toys out of the pram like we see from some wantaway players, but Solskjaer has failed to persuade him to stay put, with the Norwegian's preference of Rashford for some of the season fresh in Lukaku's mind.
Therefore, keeping a player whose head has been turned is rarely a good idea, especially someone who does not want to be at one of the world's biggest clubs.
Player power means he is likely to get his wish. Lukaku is trying to be dignified and a mutual parting with a good fee is a feasible resolution.
With Paul Pogba and Lukaku heading for the exit, as well as Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia already out, Solskjaer's rebuild is well underway, although a bit slower than he would have liked.
The former striker should be able to bring in some new faces and start again to really put a stamp on his era as Red Devils boss.
When things went wrong last season, it was easy to look at the usual suspects who often let Mourinho down and Lukaku was often among that group, so a fresh start for the club and the player seems fair, especially with United fans not scared of letting their opinion known to Lukaku.
United have already brought in Dan James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka and they have been linked with a number of big names and a forward is likely should Lukaku jump ship.
Potential summer signings under Solskjaer, according to Sky Bet's transfer odds:
- Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP - 1/2
- Harry Maguire from Leicester - 1/4
- Sean Longstaff from Newcastle - 4/11
- James Maddison from Leicester - 4/7
- Sergej Milinkovic-Savic from Lazio
- Mario Lemina from Southampton - 7/4
- Paulo Dybbala from Juventus - 3/1
To lose a player for over £60million and not see it as a loss shows United just how there is life after Lukaku. They can lose that direct approach which, possibly subliminally, they defaulted to when Lukaku was playing.
After his worst season in recent years, the Belgian has picked up more stick than most and a new start in a new league would do him some good ahead of Euro 2020.
It's time for both to move on.