Roy Keane has admitted that Chelsea’s £97million signing of Romelu Lukaku has blown the Premier League title race wide open, suggesting they can mount a serious title challenge.
The Blues sealed a club-record transfer to bring Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge after scoring 24 goals in Serie A last season, firing the Nerazzurri to the Serie A title last season.
The 28-year-old has signed a long-term contract as he prepares to begin a second stint in west London, having become Thomas Tuchel’s second summer signing.
Chelsea’s need to sign a striker grew even more desperate after defensive midfielder Jorginho ended the season as their top goalscorer with seven goals.
Mattia Ozbot – Inter/Inter via Getty Images)
The Italian even beat £47.5m striker Timo Werner’s total of six goals, while Germany star Kai Havertz struggled netting only four times in the league.
Tuchel still managed to guide the west London club to fourth in the Premier League after arriving at the club in January.
But now, armed with Lukaku, Keane believes the Champions League winners will be a force to be reckoned with — and tipped them to be the main challengers to knocking Manchester City off the summit.
“You were looking the last year or two going that out and out goalscorer, but Lukaku gives them a great chance,” Keane said, speaking on The Overlap.
“I know Liverpool have a lot of players coming back, but I would still be looking at City and Chelsea.”
It was the German’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation which turned the side who leaked goals under Frank Lampard into a defensive force, with 19 clean sheets in 30 games.
Who will be crowned Premier League champions at the end of the 2021-22 season? Let us know in the comments section below.
ebanie_bridges / Instagram)
They were beaten to third place by Liverpool, who recovered to finish the season 10 games unbeaten after an alarming slide under Jurgen Klopp which saw them lose six straight home games.
But with Virgil van Dijk returning to action and the Reds bolstered by the £35m arrival of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, Klopp’s men should be in a position to battle for the title.
Manchester United will be keen to put a serious challenge to their top-four rivals after signing Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane all but confirmed as their second signing.
However, Keane does not believe the two sides will be able to keep up with City or Chelsea unless they bolster their squad before the transfer deadline on August 31.
He added: ”Unless United or Liverpool pull something out of the bag in the next week or two with a few brilliant signings, I can’t see beyond City or Chelsea.”
Chelsea host Crystal Palace in their Premier League opener on Saturday with some silverware already under their belt.
Tuchel’s men laboured to a penalty shootout victory over Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup, with Kepa Arrizabalaga the hero after saving two spot-kicks to clinch the win in Belfast on Wednesday.
And Tuchel, who penned a new two-year contract in June after impressing the Chelsea board, agreed with Keane’s assessment that his side can put themselves in the running for their first league title since 2017.
But he warned his players they must learn to be consistent or risk missing out on English football’s top prize.
”We [will] try to be there [at the top],” the 47-year-old said.
“Why? Because we proved over half of a year that we are capable of doing this and this will be the exact approach.
Action Images via Reuters)
“Can we predict what the others do? No, but City showed what it was to be champions. Liverpool showed what it was to be champions.
“You need consistency of the highest level in the most difficult league in the world and this is the benchmark.
“We are here to close the gap not only for half a year but for the whole year.”