• Belgian says he is happy to fight for his place
• Improved offer to Manchester United is on the cards
Romelu Lukaku has welcomed Chelsea's pursuit of Wayne Rooney, despite the implications the Manchester United forward's signing could have for the Belgian, and believes he could even play alongside the England striker this season.
Chelsea have opted against loaning Lukaku out for another season as José Mourinho has been impressed with the impact the player has made since the squad returned to training earlier this month. The 20-year-old, who scored 17 goals with West Bromwich Albion last term, has registered in each of the victories on the side's pre-season tour and is expected to be given opportunities even if Rooney is prised away from the champions.
"You know when you are playing for a team like Chelsea there is going to be competition," said Lukaku when asked about the potential arrival of the England striker. "I like competition and have done from the first time I came here. Obviously, but it is the manager's choice. You have to accept that you have to work hard to make it a successful squad. If [Rooney] is part of our team I will welcome him with open arms.
"I feel I am making an impact. I am confident in my qualities and I am just keeping going like I have been doing. Hopefully I will continue to do so. Sure, I can score more goals, I can get more assists, I can do more for the team. So I have to keep improving. I can score with both feet and with my head, I am very quick and skilful. I can do a bit of everything but I can improve on things as well."
An improved offer for Rooney is anticipated from Chelsea, who are aware that their pursuit may depend on United, who have maintained a public stance that the player is not for sale, securing a high-calibre replacement first. Its completion may be delayed until after the meeting between the sides at Old Trafford on 26 August, with Fernando Torres, Demba Ba and Lukaku watching on with interest.
Regardless, the Belgian forward believes his game will progress under Mourinho's stewardship. "He is a great manager," added the teenager. "He is very direct and in your face, and I love that. It is important. If he has something to say to you, he says it. That is a good thing. I would not say this is the hardest but it is certainly the best pre-season I've had. I have to work more than I ever have but I like that. We are improving a lot already."