If all goes to plan, Romelu Lukaku will be a Chelsea player by the end of the weekend. That’s how close the Blues are to bringing the Belgian back to Stamford Bridge.
Terms have been agreed between Lukaku and Chelsea, football.london has been told. And the forward has reportedly informed Inter of his desire to return to his boyhood club. Now it’s all down to Marina Granovskaia to strike a deal with the Serie A champions.
There is haggling to be done by Roman Abramovich’s most trusted negotiator but the expectation is an offer worth in excess of £100million will be accepted by the Nerazzurri, who will turn to Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata to fill the void left by the Belgium international.
Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel is understood to have been key in convincing Lukaku to return to the club he first joined in 2011. The German was, however, coy when asked about the transfer after last night’s 2-2 pre-season draw with Tottenham.
He said: “I will not talk about players who don’t play in my squad. Romelu Lukaku is a fantastic player but he’s an Inter player and, with all due respect, I will not talk about him in this situation.”
What Tuchel did accept is that following Olivier Giroud’s move to AC Milan earlier in the summer, Chelsea lacked a physical presence in their forward line. That’s why the Blues were also interested in Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland this summer before turning their attention to Lukaku.
“We could use a type player who is used to playing with their back to the goal and can keep possession out of long balls as that means we can add this direct style of play to our portfolio,” the Chelsea head coach explained. “That isn’t Timo [Werner], it’s not Tammy [Abraham], it’s not Kai [Havertz].
“So this is a profile we don’t have in the squad that can be useful. But not for any cost and not in panic. No matter what happens, we will be competitive and we have trust in our guys.
“We still have young players in the offensive part of the game from whom we demand improvement. So we are relaxed and well aware of our situation at the same time.”
If – and almost certainly when – Lukaku rejoins Chelsea, he will be the reliable goalscorer the Blues so desperately lacked last season.
During his two seasons at Inter, the Belgium international netted 64 goals in 95 games. And he, of course, has an impressive back catalog in the Premier League.
Lukaku first joined Chelsea at the age of 18 from Anderlecht but, after only one season at Stamford Bridge, went out on loan. First to West Bromwich Albion and then to Everton, who he would sign permanently for in the summer of 2014. A transfer to Manchester United would take place three years later.
For those respective clubs, he amassed 252 appearances and scored 113 times in the English top flight. Lukaku also claimed 35 assists. He is as much a guarantee as is possible in the transfer market.
There is a rather helpful bonus to his arrival too: Lukaku, per Premier League rules, will count as a homegrown player for Chelsea as he spent three seasons with the Blues prior to turning 21 years old. (football.london has contacted the FA this morning to confirm Brexit hasn’t altered this.)
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In the Champions League, meanwhile, Lukaku will count as an association-trained player; someone who was on a club’s books in the same association for three years between the ages of 15 and 21.
Given Chelsea have promoted several players from their academy over the last three years – such as Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mason Mount and Reece James – the Blues’ need for homegrown players isn’t as great as it once was.
Yet Lukaku’s status is another positive, and why Chelsea are so intent on bringing the striker back to Stamford Bridge.
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