An Uncertain Summer: Lukaku’s London Return and Inter Milan’s Conundrum
According to Italian journalist Davide Stoppini from La Gazzetta dello Sport, the tale of the coming summer transfer window seems to be encapsulated in a single question for Romelu Lukaku: Inter Milan or Chelsea? Here, we try to dissect the intriguing transfer narrative surrounding one of football’s most prolific forwards.
Lukaku’s Milan Love Against Chelsea’s Call
At the heart of the matter lies Lukaku’s affection for Inter Milan, a city he chose to return to last summer, realising his initial decision to leave was a misstep. Yet, the ultimate decision doesn’t solely rest on his shoulders. Inter Milan and Chelsea will have to negotiate and make the hard decisions.
Inter Milan, led by Chairman Zhang, is eager to understand their position. They need to strategise for the potential future without their key forward, particularly given their ambitions in the aftermath of the UEFA Champions League final against Manchester City on June 10.
A Chelsea Homecoming for Lukaku?
Chelsea is the logical destination, considering the 12-month loan agreement coming to an end in June. However, Lukaku has expressed his preference for Serie A over the Premier League, finding it more suitable to his playing style. Furthermore, he has grown fond of Milan, the city he wants to call home.
But there’s an influential variable to consider – Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea’s future manager. The Argentinian has conveyed to Chelsea’s board his desire to evaluate Lukaku’s potential inclusion. Despite Lukaku’s current focus on Inter and the Champions League final, he cannot ignore Chelsea’s interest.
Navigating Through the Financial Labyrinth
The matter becomes even more complicated when financial implications are considered. Chelsea’s balance sheets still carry an estimated €69 million from Lukaku’s purchase. A transfer, at this point, appears far-fetched.
Lukaku knows that leaving London once more would require finding a club willing to take on an expensive loan deal. This scenario seems irrational for any club mindful of their financial stability and player assets.
Inter’s Conditions for Retention
For Lukaku to remain with Inter Milan next season, several conditions need to be met simultaneously. First, Inter’s qualification to the next Champions League. Secondly, Lukaku might need to accept a salary reduction, a proposition he seems open to, much to Inter’s appreciation.
The last condition is a tricky one: Inter’s executives Marotta and Ausilio hope for a significant discount on the €8 million (excluding bonuses) paid for Lukaku’s loan this season. However, Chelsea are rigid on this front, wishing to replicate last year’s agreement.
The Imminent Showdown and A Final Thought
The stalemate can only be broken through a summit between both parties, expected to take place after the Champions League final. Lukaku’s strong performances have indeed reopened a door that seemed to have shut.
But the road is uphill. Not everything is up to Inter or even Lukaku’s preference. The Belgian forward, for now, is focused on the final in Istanbul. He remains intent on overturning the pecking order that favours Dzeko for the final against City. The next few weeks are crucial, and only time will reveal where Lukaku will play his football next season.