Romelu Lukaku is on the verge of ending his Chelsea return after just one season, albeit temporarily, with his move to Inter Milan close to completion.
The 29-year-old will make the season-long loan move back to the San Siro less than 12 months on from arriving back at Stamford Bridge for a club-record £97.5 million transfer fee.
Lukaku netted 15 goals in his first season back in the English capital, but it didn’t come without controversy. His unauthorised interview with Sky Italia towards the end of 2021 was the start of the end for the Belgian.
From that point on, no matter what Lukaku did, even if he scored the winning goal in the FA Cup final against Liverpool, would’ve repaired the relationship and his departure comes at the right time even if it does leave Chelsea with embarrassment having splashed big-money to bring him back to the club he first left in in 2014.
He will rejoin the Nerazzurri for the 2022/23 campaign after Chelsea and Inter Milan struck an agreement earlier this week which would see them pay €8 million plus add-ons for his services, while Lukaku would take a pay cut, believed to be 25 per cent, to seal a move and ensure Chelsea didn’t pay any of his wages while he is in Italy.
All the details of Romelu Lukaku's #Chelsea exit as Inter Milan close in on loan deal.— Absolute Chelsea (@AbsoluteChelsea) June 21, 2022
💰 Loan fee
🤝 No option/obligation to buy
✍️ When the deal could be completed
🔜 What's next for Thomas Tuchel's side after the Lukaku's deal is confirmed
But the transfer would have been more unlikely to happen if Todd Boehly, Clearlake Capital and co hadn’t completed their £4.25 billion takeover of the club last month.
It was the last signing that was sanctioned under the Roman Abramovich era, led by Marina Granovskaia, and he is set to be the first high-profile departure – excluding those of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen who departed at the end of their contracts.
A signing that the board so deeply craved, authorised by head coach Thomas Tuchel, but didn’t work out. Chaos as usual in west London, but something the club wouldn’t ever change under the Abramovich era – it’s what worked, it’s what brought success. If something didn’t work out, they’d find an alternative.
As per reports, someone internally at Chelsea, including Marina Granovskaia, wanted to keep Lukaku for a further season but it was on Boehly’s command that he backed Tuchel’s wishes of ensuring the Belgium international depart this summer before the return of pre-season next month.
Boehly, who has now been appointed as the Club’s new Chairman as well as the interim sporting director, wasn’t fully convinced himself either but proceeded with what Tuchel wanted, delivering on his transfer window promise, and played a key role in finalising an agreement with Inter Milan.
BREAKING, EXCL ‼️— Luca Bendoni (@LucaBendoni) June 21, 2022
Exclusive images of Romelu Lukaku's agent, Sébastien Ledure, in Milano. ⚫️🔵 #Lukaku
He closed the deal for the striker's return to Inter after a meeting with the board. 🔜✅️ #Inter
For @SkySport and @DiMarzio 👇 pic.twitter.com/azKtj0webM
Boehly and co came into Chelsea with a clean slate. All the squad members were, theoretically, of the same worth having not been brought in by the new owners. It has made a rebuild, which Tuchel has admitted is needed, easier. No sentiment is being shown over players’ futures and their places in the team are being determined based on what Tuchel feels is right, not based on their price-tag or relationship with the hierarchy.
There’s no beating around the bush, Lukaku’s return has been a disaster. It just hasn’t worked out. Had he stayed and it dragged on, the mood and atmosphere in the current squad would have been put at risk, something the new owners could simply not risk.
With everybody being treated as equals, Chelsea can only see Lukaku’s departure as a positive. They get a fee, offload an unwanted player, and can move on.
Had Abramovich still been at the helm, Lukaku may still be here, jeopardising Tuchel and the squad for next season.
A swift negotiation has allowed for a quick departure, the perfect outcome for all parties.
Todd Boehly secures an early win.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy