Romelu Lukaku’s return to Chelsea FC was disappointing. The Belgian was never able to match his performances from his Milan days. Now he is said to be on the move to Inter again.
“Inter-Lukaku, all clear!”: On Thursday, four words (“Inter-Lukaku: Ci siamo”) were emblazoned on the front page of the Gazzetta dello Sport, suggesting Romelu Lukaku’s return to Inter Milan.
Nothing has been decided yet, but it looks like the Belgian’s second chapter at Chelsea FC will be over after just one year.
Lukaku would prefer to erase the past season from his memory. Most recently, the striker was ruled out of the Nations League due to an ankle injury after never living up to the high expectations at Chelsea.
The brawny attacker scored only 15 goals in 44 competitive games for Thomas Tuchel’s team. Too few for a man of his stature, for a 100-million-euro transfer.
The left-footer was in the starting eleven for the Blues for less than half of all matches – and he had imagined his comeback in London quite differently.
Lukaku from Chelsea via Everton to United – and to Italy
In 2011, the then 18-year-old made the move from his training club RSC Anderlecht to Chelsea FC. The then aspiring talent cost an impressive 15 million euros. One season later, he was loaned to West Brom within the league.
The competition with Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres was too great. The striker was in the wrong place at the wrong time – and not yet so far along in his development.
After one season, he returned to the Blues – only to be loaned directly to Everton. There he was convincing. The Toffees decided to sign Lukaku for a fee of 35 million euros. The Chelsea chapter was over for the time being.
Then, in 2019, came the supposed breakthrough: Manchester United spent a whopping 85 million euros on him. But his time with the Red Devils turned out to be a misunderstanding, Lukaku was made a scapegoat and symbolised the club’s failure.
A move to Inter Milan in the Italian league followed. There he was able to redeem himself and bring all his skills to the pitch. Lukaku became, alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, the absolute superstar of the league.
Why doesn’t Lukaku work at Chelsea?
The return to Chelsea FC last year was supposed to be his personal masterpiece. The goal was clear: to end the domination of Manchester City and Liverpool, who have been fighting for the Premier League crown for several years.
Chelsea FC had every reason to rejoice with the signing. Lukaku was to become the missing piece of the jigsaw in a team that had just won the Champions League. Only the striker’s position was considered a problem area. And the Blues paid a lot for that. 113 million euros went to Lombardy.
On the surface, Lukaku was the perfect solution: one season earlier, he virtually single-handedly shot Inter to the league title. In total, he scored 64 goals in 95 competitive games in two years with the Nerazzurri.
The problem: In the series, where a 40-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still one of the attractions, the muscleman managed to skilfully use his physical strength and speed. Despite a height of 1.90 metres and a weight of 103 kilos, Lukaku is considered very agile.
In the Premier League, however, most defenders are on a similar physical level and can keep up with the Belgian.
In addition, he lacked consistency in some actions – a mental problem that could also have caused his immensely high transfer fee. Lukaku was in debt from the very first game. The club expected a conveyor belt of goals.
At first he succeeded, scoring three goals in the first three Premier League games. But then he started to miss the target.
Lukaku and Tuchel – not always on the same wavelength
Off the pitch, too, he did not always cut a happy figure. His interview in December, in which he criticised his coach’s tactical ideas and revealed his love for his former club Inter Milan, is still remembered.
As a result, the 29-year-old was dropped from the squad for a number of matches, including against Liverpool FC. Although Tuchel later gifted Lukaku back, partly due to an apology video, the fronts between player, coach and club had long since hardened. “Of course the marriage has not gone well until now. We have to admit that,” the German said in April.
Qualitative differences between the leagues, unrest off the pitch and enormous pressure caused by the high transfer fee. Together, these three factors make for a dangerous mix.
So now it looks like a return to his great love – where Lukaku brought all his skills to the pitch. According to the Gazzetta, Inter would loan out the prodigal son. The details are still being worked out.