Chelsea can use Inter Milan’s desire to fast-track Romelu Lukaku deal and Thomas Tuchel rebuild
“The relationship I have with this club means so much to me,” Romelu Lukaku explained after returning to Chelsea from Inter Milan in a deal worth £97.5million sterling. “I supported Chelsea as a kid and now I’m back and trying to help them win more titles. It’s an amazing feeling.
“The way the club is developing fits perfectly with my ambitions at 28 – and have just won Serie A. I think this opportunity comes at the right time and I hope we can have a lot of success together. Since I left Chelsea, it’s been a long journey with lots of ups and downs, but these experiences have made me strong.
“The challenge is to try to help the team win more trophies. I’m looking forward to getting started and helping the club achieve more success.”
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What innocent days they were – full of hope and ambition. Chelsea were European champions and considered a contender to Manchester City and Liverpool for the Premier League title. There was no fear that the club would be sold. No prospect of sanctions. No idea of takeover.
But a lot can change in nine months; Chelsea found out the hard way. Just like Lukaku, whose dream return to Stamford Bridge has turned into a nightmare. The one he intends to end this summer quite quickly and decisively with a return to Inter Milan.
After the end of the 2021/22 campaign, Lukaku’s representatives sounded out whether Inter would be willing to bring the Belgian back to San Siro on loan. Once they received encouragement, came the hardest part: bringing Chelsea to the negotiating table.
But yesterday, as The Telegraph first reported, formal talks took place between the Blues and Inter. Chelsea’s new co-owner Todd Boehly was involved and is said to have facilitated the return to Italy of the 29-year-old, who finished last season as top scorer in Thomas Tuchel’s side with 15 goals.
Still, the Chelsea head coach gave his blessing to a potential departure from Lukaku, who was never a natural fit in Tuchel’s high pressure system. It was expected that Lukaku’s goals would offset that and make the difference in the tight games the Blues had failed in before. It didn’t happen – at least not on a regular basis.
At the end of last season, Lukaku was stuck on the bench with first-choice No.9 Kai Havertz Chelsea. It was clear then that a change would be needed this summer, that a final end to the back-and-forth-again relationship Lukaku had with the Blues was needed.
Perhaps the most telling aspect of Lukaku’s desire to leave Stamford Bridge is that he is willing to take a pay cut in order to secure a return to Inter. It’s a huge statement, a sign of a player looking for his happy place. That’s partly why there’s little choice – and little chance – that Chelsea will fight to keep him.
Inter are believed to want any move for Lukaku to be completed before the end of the financial year on June 30. Hurry up. However, this need can also benefit Chelsea and Tuchel, who are due to rebuild their first team this summer. Lukaku could be the first domino in this process.