Football

Romelu Lukaku returns to Inter Milan on loan after flop Chelsea stint

Chelsea’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku. File

Chelsea’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku. File | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Romelu Lukaku will again look to revive his career back in Italy after completing a sensational return to Inter Milan on a one-year loan deal, just 10 months after joining Chelsea for $135 million as the seventh most expensive football player ever at the time.

It’s a remarkable piece of business by Inter, which is reportedly paying Chelsea €8 million ($8.4 million) — plus up to €2 million in team-related bonuses — for Lukaku. The 29-year-old forward will go down as one of the biggest transfer flops in Premier League history and reportedly took a pay cut to secure his return to Italy after a miserable second spell at Chelsea.

“It seemed impossible for me to come back here but we managed it and I'm grateful to him (Inter president Steven Zhang) for the way he kept pushing and believing it was possible,” Lukaku said in an interview with Inter TV.

“We managed to do it in the end and I’m delighted to be back.”

Lukaku also revealed he had kept his house in Milan after his move to Chelsea. “That means something,” he said. "I’m pleased to be back and now I can’t wait to get out there with my teammates.”

Back with Lautaro

The move will see Lukaku link up again with Inter forward Lautaro Martínez in a formidable partnership that was dubbed “LuLa” by the Italian media.

“I'm very happy,” Lukaku said in a video taken by Zhang and posted on the club's social media on Wednesday. “That's what I'm here for,” Lukaku replied when asked by Zhang if he was going to score a lot of goals

Lukaku scored 47 goals in 72 appearances in Serie A in his two previous seasons with Inter and helped the Nerazzurri win the league in 2021 for the first time in 11 years.

However, struggling financially, Inter needed to trim its wage bill and make a profit in the transfer market and so Lukaku was sold to Chelsea last August in a record transfer fee for the English club.

Unhappy at Chelsea

But Lukaku looked far from the striker who struck fear into the heart of defenses during his time in Italy. He scored just eight goals in 26 Premier League appearances and was also dropped at the start of this year after giving an interview in which he said he was “not happy with the situation” at Chelsea and indicated he didn’t like coach Thomas Tuchel’s style of play.

Antonio Conte was coach during Lukaku’s previous spell at Inter and the Belgium international thrived under him, renewing his confidence and scoring touch after a disappointing period at Manchester United.

From Conte to Inzaghi

It remains to be seen how Lukaku will do under Inter coach Simone Inzaghi. The two briefly overlapped at Inter, during the last pre-season before Lukaku completed his move to Chelsea.

“I wanted to work with the coach (Inzaghi),” Lukaku said. “We were in contact throughout the whole of last season. I think he’s doing a great job here. I want to help the team and do well for this club.”

Inter finished second to city rival AC Milan last season but won the Italian Cup and Italian Super Cup. Lukaku will wear No. 90 on his jersey. He had the No. 9 shirt in his previous spell.


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Printable version | Jun 30, 2022 9:26:12 am | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/romelu-lukaku-returns-to-inter-milan-on-loan-after-flop-chelsea-stint/article65584557.ece