Steve Walsh Told Jose Mourinho to Be 'Careful' About 'Big Baby' Romelu Lukaku

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2019

Manchester United's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho (L) reacts as Manchester United's Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku waits to be substituted on during the UEFA Champions League group H football match between Manchester United and Young Boys at Old Trafford in Manchester, north-west England on November 27, 2018. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP)        (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
OLI SCARFF/Getty Images

Former Everton director of football Steve Walsh said he warned ex-Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho that Romelu Lukaku was a "big baby" when the Belgium international moved between the two clubs.

Lukaku made the switch from the Toffees to the Red Devils in 2017, at which point he was rated as one of the best centre-forwards in the Premier League.

The striker left United in the previous transfer window after a mixed couple of campaigns at Old Trafford.

Speaking to The Athletic's Rob Tanner (h/t Sky Sports), Walsh said he advised Mourinho of issues with Lukaku's character when the two clubs were negotiating a deal:

"When Jose [Mourinho] signed Romelu Lukaku from Everton, I remember saying to him, 'You have to be careful with Lukaku. He is a big baby, you know'.

"He said he could handle him. I don't think he really got Lukaku on-side mentally, which you have to do.

"That is the case with him and Paul Pogba. They aren't my type of players. They are more about themselves than the team. I wouldn't have touched them. Because they are good players doesn't mean you are going to get a good team out of it."

Lukaku enjoyed a strong start at United and appeared as though he was going to take his game to the next level under Mourinho.

However, over time, he failed to show consistency in his displays. Lukaku's lack of movement off the ball and his poor link play left many Red Devils supporters frustrated with the forward. Under current United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he fell out of favour towards the end of the previous term.

As such, it wasn't a huge surprise when Lukaku moved to Inter Milan in the summer.

He has made a big impression with his performances:

Italian Football TV @IFTVofficial

Lukaku's goals have mattered most in Serie A (so far) ⚽🔥 https://t.co/LM4m4ucRps

Lukaku is also in excellent form for Belgium and continued his hot streak with a goal against Russia on Saturday:

Sky Sports Football @SkyFootball

Lukaku makes it four! The @BelRedDevils are cruising and will make it 9️⃣ wins in 9️⃣ #EURO2020 qualifiers! 📺 Watch Russia v Belgium live on Sky Sports Premier League channel now! https://t.co/UWI67yl7Qh

While there may be doubts over some aspects of his play, and clearly Walsh holds concerns over the player's character, Lukaku has been able to score goals consistently throughout his career.

He excelled for the Toffees in the campaign before his move to United, netting an impressive 25 goals in the 2016-17 Premier League season. It was no surprise the Red Devils made their move for the striker, although supporters would have expected him to net more than 28 league goals in two years at the club.

Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News was critical of the manner in which Lukaku conducted himself before leaving:

Samuel Luckhurst @samuelluckhurst

Lukaku had a decent first season, albeit marred by some lengthy droughts and the crucial Anfield fluff. He was lethargic after the World Cup, squandered key chances in games #mufc dropped points in and lost his place two months before Mourinho was sacked. He'll always have Paris.

Now 26, Lukaku is in what should be the peak years of his career, and he appears intent on making the most of a fresh start at Inter.

Walsh was unable to find a suitable replacement for Lukaku during his time at Everton and was sacked from his position as director of football at the end of the 2017-18 season.