Friday, March 24, 2023

Romelu Lukaku returns to Chelsea after $135 million transfer from Inter Milan

Romelu Lukaku’s return to Chelsea is official. The defending European champions paid a $135 million transfer fee to Italian league winner Inter Milan to acquire the Belgian striker for a second spell after two years spent in Serie A.

Lukaku, who last played for Chelsea between 2011 and 2014, has signed a five-year deal with the Blues that will see him remain in west London until 2026, when he turns 33.

Inter were initially reluctant to part ways with the second highest scorer in Serie A (24 goals last year), but couldn’t afford to turn down Chelsea’s lucrative offer amid an ongoing financial crisis.

Lukaku’s first words

“I’m happy and blessed to be back at this wonderful club,’ said Lukaku in a statement on the Chelsea’s official website . “It’s been a long journey for me: I came here as a kid who had a lot to learn, now I’m coming back with a lot of experience and more mature.

“The relationship I have with this club means so much to me, as you know. I have supported Chelsea as a kid and now to be back and try to help them win more titles is an amazing feeling.

“The way the club is going fits my ambitions perfectly at 28 and just coming off winning Serie A. I think this opportunity comes at the right time and hopefully we can have a lot of success together.

“Since I left Chelsea, it’s been a long journey with a lot of ups and downs, but these experiences made me strong and the challenge is to try to help the team win some more trophies. I can’t wait to get started and to help the club achieve more success.”

Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia added: “Romelu Lukaku is quite simply one of the world’s best strikers and goalscorers. We are absolutely delighted to be bringing him back to the club he loves, and are excited to be adding his talent to our Champions League-winning squad.”

Why did Chelsea target Lukaku?

Chelsea may have conquered the Champions League for a second time last season, while also securing a fourth-place finish in the Premier League last term, but midfielder Jorginho was their top scorer in the league with seven goals.

German forward Timo Werner struggled to live up to expectations following his $65 million move from RB Leipzig last summer, scoring just six Premier League goals in 35 appearances, while back-up strikers Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud also struggled for consistency.

Giroud opted to join AC Milan this offseason in search of more regular minutes, leaving a spot open in Thomas Tuchel’s ranks for a new target man, and Lukaku will be expected to walk straight into his starting lineup after solidifying his reputation as one of the most prolific forwards in Europe at San Siro.

The Belgium international failed to score a goal in 15 competitive outings for Chelsea when he was last on their books, but he returns as a far more accomplished player having fired Inter to their first Serie A crown in 11 years in 2020-21.

Lukaku comes full circle

Lukaku, who began his career at Anderlecht in 2009, left Chelsea to join Everton in 2014 amid a lack of regular minutes at Stamford Bridge, and went onto score 87 goals in 166 games for the Toffees before joining Manchester United.

The Red Devils paid $105 million to bring the frontman to Old Trafford in 2017, and he scored 26 goals in his debut season at the club, but fell out of favor in 2018-19 amid persistent struggles for form and fitness.

United accepted a loss on their initial investment after selling Lukaku to Inter Milan at the end of that campaign, but he took his game to greater heights in Italy under Inter manager Antonio Conte.

Chelsea’s newest signing recorded 64 goals and 16 assists in 95 total appearances for the Nerazzurri, and will now be expected to help the Blues launch a serious title challenge when the new campaign kicks off.


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