Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho says he travelled to Belgium during the international break to gain insight on Romelu Lukaku.
Mourinho attended Belgium’s 2-0 win against Iceland in Brussels on November 15 – and was not watching any of his own players, with neither Lukaku nor Marouane Fellaini involved for the hosts.
Fellaini, who had recently made his return to action after injury, was not part of the squad and has been working on his fitness at United’s training ground.
Lukaku sat the game out due to a hamstring problem, and the striker then did not travel with Belgium for Sunday’s clash with Switzerland for the same reason.
A post from the striker on Instagram from earlier this week featured videos of him doing exercises, an image of him with Belgium physio Lieven Maesschalck, and a message thanking Move to Cure, a team of injury specialists overseen by Maesschalck.
Lukaku came off the bench in the 3-1 loss to Manchester City on November 11 having been sidelined for United’s previous two matches by hamstring trouble.
His scoring record this season shows five goals for Belgium and four for United, and he has not netted in his last 10 appearances for the club.
Mourinho was asked ahead of Saturday’s Premier League home clash with Crystal Palace – for which Lukaku has been declared “ready with a little bit of a risk” – about his trip to Belgium.
And after joking that he went “for the weather”, he said: “I went…mentally to be with Lukaku, to feel him, to see his situation, his injury.
“Roberto (Martinez, the Belgium manager) invited me to meet him, which I decided not to (do), because I don’t like to disturb people before matches.
“But I was with Roberto on the phone trying to feel, trying to understand the problem and evolution of the problem.
“And of course I like to watch football. I was in London, a couple of hours train, easy to go.”
So maybe Mourinho wasn't doing a scouting mission after all.