Mauricio Pochettino left with egg on face over Romelu Lukaku’s Chelsea return
Chelsea’s next manager in waiting Mauricio Pochettino is said to be willing to hand Romelu Lukaku a fresh start at Stamford Bridge this summer – yet it appears the Belgian has already decided he intends to remain at Inter Milan next season. The Belgian has spent the 2022/23 campaign back on loan with the Nerazzurri following a troublesome club-record return to Chelsea in 2021.
Lukaku fell out of favour under Thomas Tuchel and was therefore offloaded back to Inter, where he has now finally started to show glimpses of his previous goalscoring form.
Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport recently reported that Pochettino was keen to bring Lukaku back to Chelsea this summer and hand him the change to wipe the slate clean.
And if that is correct, the Argentine has already been hung out to dry after Lukaku indicated he now considers Milan to be his home.
“I was good at Chelsea last season. But I knew then that if it didn’t work out at Chelsea, I still had Inter,” Lukaku told Het Laatste Nieuws.
“When I signed again, I knew: I belong here. I had that too at Anderlecht. I take this club seriously. I want to do my best. The people here see that. Being encouraged here is the best thing there is.”
Furthermore, Sky Italia are now reporting that Lukaku wants to stay at Inter regardless of Pochettino’s impending appointment at Chelsea.
The initial loan deal did not include an option to buy however, meaning Inter would have to negotiate a fee with Chelsea.
Given the Blues shelled out a whopping £97.5m to sign the player, it is fair to say they’re unlikely to let the 30-year-old leave on the cheap.
Lukaku has nine Serie A goals in 23 outings this season and has helped fire Inter to Coppa Italia glory.
Simone Inzaghi’s side can still make history on June 10 when they face off with Manchester City in the Champions League final in Istanbul.
It means Lukaku’s future is unlikely to be resolved until after that point and at the moment, he will still be expected to return to Chelsea for pre-season.
Chelsea are expected to sign a new striker in the summer transfer window with Victor Osimhen one of the main targets of interest to Pochettino.
The Napoli frontman is currently valued at around £130m though and Chelsea are not prepared to pay that kind of money.
Should they opt to sell Lukaku, it could help them get significantly closer to Napoli’s valuation though.
Other options are also on the table including Harry Kane, who enjoyed a strong relationship with Pochettino during their time together at Spurs.
Lukaku’s current strike partner Lautaro Martinez is also an attractive proposition after scoring twice for Inter in their 2-1 Coppa Italia final victory over Fiorentina.
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