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Manchester United tour diary: Frustration builds over Romelu Lukaku' Inter move, fan trouble and Fred's return

James Ducker
There is growing frustration on both sides with the lack of progress over Romelu Lukaku's potential move away from United - Manchester United

While Manchester United’s players were being put through their paces at the National Stadium in Singapore on Friday, Romelu Lukaku watched on glumly from the sidelines as his future remains in limbo.

The Belgium striker cut a distant figure as he sat disconsolately in the dug-out in full training gear as the wait continues for a move to Inter Milan - coincidentally, United’s opponents in Singapore on Saturday.

Lukaku missed United’s matches against Perth Glory and Leeds United in Australia with what has officially been cited as a “small niggle” and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the striker would also be unavailable against Inter.

Antonio Conte, the Inter coach, is thought to be growing increasingly exasperated by the wait to secure his primary summer transfer target and Lukaku’s patience also seems to be wearing thin. United want as much as £90 million for Lukaku but Inter need to offload Mauro Icardi to help fund a deal and also consider such a valuation to be excessive.

There are unlikely to be any key discussions in Singapore between the clubs since all their main officials remain in London and Milan respectively but Inter are likely to offer United a package worth up to £67 million by the end of the week.

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Two players who did train were Fred and Matteo Darmian, who have joined the tour in Singapore after being granted more time off for personal reasons. Fred was not in Perth after his wedding to new wife Monique in Belo Horizonte. The Brazil midfielder endured a torrid debut campaign with United but Solskjaer is hoping his second season with the club proves more fruitful.

Fred (centre) is back with the United squad after getting married in Brazil Credit: Getty images

“Fred’s been over in Brazil and had his wedding so has probably he has got loads of energy and I’m sure he is keen to join in,” Solskjaer said.

“I think you’re not surprised when a player from Brazil who's played in Ukraine finds it a little bit hard in the beginning but we know the talent is there. We've seen towards the end of the season what Fred can give us - the PSG game, Arsenal, Man City - and he's one that we hope is going take another step this season. Hopefully him missing 10 days of pre-season won't set him back to much.”

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Nick Montgomery, the former Sheffield United midfielder, was spotted decked out in a full Manchester United training kit when Solskjaer’s side played Leeds in Perth on Wednesday. It sparked rumours as to whether the 37-year-old had been drafted on to United’s coaching staff for the tour in the wake of Mark Dempsey returning home following his collapse the previous week.

As it happens, Montgomery was just there as a guest of Mike Phelan, Solskjaer’s No 2, and was given a kit to make him feel more comfortable as he mixed with the coaching staff and first team squad. Montgomery is currently assistant manager at the Central Coast Mariners, the A-league side where Phelan was the sporting director until his permanent appointment as United assistant manager.

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Tickets for United’s game against Inter sold out in just two hours, with a crowd of 55,000 expected at the National Stadium for the game.

United fans mob the players wherever they go Credit: Getty Images

United were mobbed by fans when they arrived at the Ritz Carlton in Singapore on Thursday evening, their base during the second leg of their pre-season tour. Hundreds of fans had gathered to line the entrance route to the plush five-star hotel in Marina Bay, with hundreds more camped out in the lobby. There is no chance of United entering quietly through the back door in this part of the world.

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United’s 11-day stay in Perth has so far raised AUD$178,000 for charity and that figure is expected to rise further with donations still coming in. The Manchester United Foundation joined forces with local charity Telethon ahead of the visit and have agreed to use the proceeds to fund a programme that gives physically and intellectually disabled children a chance to play football.

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Unfortunately, it was not all good news in Perth. There were some ugly scenes in the stands at the Optus Stadium with footage emerging of Manchester United and Leeds United fans fighting in the stands.

It is understood a total of 15 fans were evicted from the ground for anti-social behaviour while a pitch invader is facing the prospect of a stadium ban.