Chelsea are confident of agreeing a deal to bring Romelu Lukaku back to the club this summer as talks progress with Inter.
90min revealed in May that Lukaku was top of club owner Roman Abramovich’s wish list, as he sanctioned the signing of a world-class striker following his side’s struggles in front of goal in 2020/21. Head coach Thomas Tuchel has given the green light to the pursuit as he feels the club need a new frontman to compete with Premier League champions Manchester City.
Superstars Lukaku and Erling Haaland emerged as their two most likely options, but talks over both players have now taken different trajectories, with Borussia Dortmund refusing to sell their Norwegian phenomenon in 2021.
That has left Chelsea to focus on Lukaku who has been a firm favourite of Abramovich ever since his first spell at Stamford Bridge, which ended in 2014 after just 15 appearances. Chelsea and Inter have been locked in talks, and communication has been constant for a number of weeks.
An offer of around £85m plus Marcus Alonso was rejected, with Inter demanding in excess of £100m for their star man. That means the Blues will have to break the British transfer record to bring him in, and they are prepare to do exactly that.
It emerged on Tuesday night that the west London club are preparing a monstrous cash bid worth £110m – which could well be enough to convince Inter to sell – as well as an enticing financial package for the Belgian.
Lukaku’s representatives have been made aware of the terms that would be on offer at Stamford Bridge, and it is believed it would make him the highest paid player at the club.
A source told 90min there is growing confidence at Chelsea that they will get their man, with their next bid likely to meet Inter chairman Steven Zhang’s valuation and Lukaku now ready to return to the club he left in 2014.
Italian journalist Alfredo Pedulla goes as far as saying the striker has already spoken with Tuchel. Inter need to sell to balance the books and reduce their wage budget, and the Blues now see Lukaku as their best chance of landing a superstar forward this summer.
Friends of the Belgian international have made it known that Lukaku is ‘very happy’ with life in Milan, however, he also acknowledges he has unfinished business in west London and if Inter agree terms, he will move.
Lukaku netted 24 times in Serie A last season and laid on ten more as the Nerazzurri claimed a first Scudetto for a decade, ending Juventus’ era of domestic dominance.
If the transfer goes through for £110m, Lukaku would become the most expensive signing in Premier League history, obliterating the previous record of £89m spent on Paul Pogba by Manchester United. The Belgium international is already sixth on that list following his £76m move from Everton to the Red Devils in 2017.
Ideally Chelsea want to send players to San Siro as makeweights. Alonso is still an option, but they could also use Tammy Abraham or Italian internationals Emerson Palmieri and Davide Zappacosta, who have been spoken about in the talks between the two clubs.
The one potential stumbling block is Arsenal’s pursuit of Lukaku’s strike partner Lautaro Martinez – whose representatives have been sounding out potential next clubs. It is believed Martinez would be willing to move to north London, which has caught many at Inter by surprise. It is unlikely they would be wiling to sanction the sales of both men.
Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham have all previously shown an interest in the Argentine, but as yet it is only Arsenal who have held talks about the 23-year-old – whose price tag would be less than £70m.
Sky Italia’s Gianluca Di Marzio adds that Inter are tentatively pondering replacements for Lukaku, with the Scudetto winners considering signing both Atalanta’s Duvan Zapata and Joaquin Correa of Lazio to replenish their strike force.
However, sources close to the Italian club believe that Fiorentina’s highly-rated Dusan Vlahovic is the man they want.