The Belgium international has thrived at the Giuseppe Meazza but his mentor Antonio Conte has now departed
Romelu Lukaku’s long-awaited return to Chelsea will be dependent on the European champions huge offer to Internazionale, potentially up to a value of £130m.
The Belgian is the biggest star in Serie A now and has been content to stay, with the Italian club aware that any sale would lead to a furious outcry from their fans. There is a feeling that the response could be reminiscent of when Roberto Baggio left Fiorentina for Juventus, but only amplified by the social media age, such is the stature of Lukaku in Italy.
That is all tempered by Inter’s desperate need for revenue, amid the financial troubles of their Chinese owners, Suning. The situation has already seen title-winning manager Antonio Conte leave, and the Italian champions need at least one big sale.
Some believe it may even be a straight choice between selling Lautaro Martinez or Lukaku, but there is more interest in the latter, and he would command a greater fee.
Chelsea are by far the most intent on Lukaku, having already made two verbal offers, topping out at £100m so far. Many in Italy have wondered whether the English club’s posturing on Lukaku is part of a wider strategy regarding Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, which is why they are waiting to see how big Chelsea go in any official offer.
Lukaku himself is sanguine about the situation. He is happy to stay, but would be willing to return to Chelsea if the opportunity presented itself.
The Belgian has long felt he has unfinished at the club he supported as a youth, and that he can still mark himself out as a Stamford Bridge legend. There is initial agreement on his personal terms, and he would become Chelsea’s best-paid player on £250,000 a week.
All that is required is the right bid.
A factor that could help the situation is that Inter’s main target in this market is wing-backs, and they would be willing to take either Marcos Alonso or Davide Zappacosta from Stamford Bridge. Either could yet form part of any deal.
Chelsea’s eventual offer would have to be huge, though, as Inter know that would be part of placating supporters. They are also conscious of the commercial status of Lukaku, given he is seen in the Italian market as “the sort of player who gets you Netflix and Amazon documentaries”. Chelsea now just have to make the offer that proves too good to turn down.