HomePREMIER LEAGUEChelsea's record cost has left Mauricio Pochettino with a vexing Romelu Lukaku...

Chelsea’s record cost has left Mauricio Pochettino with a vexing Romelu Lukaku transfer problem.


Chelsea’s record cost has left Mauricio Pochettino with a vexing Romelu Lukaku transfer problem.

Chelsea spent £97.5 million in August 2021, believing they had found the final piece of the jigsaw in identifying a real goalscorer.

Romelu Lukaku returned to Stamford Bridge for a club record deal to wear the No. 9 shirt after lighting up Serie A on his route to the title with Inter Milan, scoring 30 goals in 44 appearances. Eden Hazard was the last Chelsea player to have 20 successful strikes in 2018/19.

That is still the case, despite Lukaku having a terrible season in goal, taking part in a contentious interview, and struggling to make Chelsea’s starting XI. The Belgian became Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer, but he trailed Mason Mount by two goals in the Premier League goalscoring charts.

In many ways, leaving was the only logical choice, and Todd Boehly and company aided in that process by accepting a loan contract back to Inter Milan rather than attempting to negotiate a permanent deal. A package similar to what Chelsea agreed to less than a year ago would not be forthcoming.

Chelsea’s goal-scoring prowess has only deteriorated, while Lukaku’s season appeared to be heading in the same direction. Injury dogged the 30-year-old’s season, as he struggled to crack the starting lineup under Simone Inzaghi.

A bad mix for Chelsea, leaving the club with an unwanted player and a potentially worse market.

The twilight of the season, however, has seen things change, as Lukaku has been involved in 11 goals since the beginning of April, including a strike against Sassuolo that displayed the trademarks of Lukaku at his finest. A powerful strike that would remind viewers of the talent he possesses.

“You know what Lukaku can do and as a coach I had brought him back in with enthusiasm after the last month,” Inzaghi told reporters ahead of the Champoions League semi-final second leg against AC Milan.

“This is what he should have given us all year but, unfortunately, there were unforeseen circumstances for him and for [Marcelo] Brozovic, who were taken away from us for five months. The team had to suffer without them.”

Does any of these have any bearing on the Lukaku situation? Most likely not.

It may provide the forward with a summer destination, with the prospect of a return to Milan, but it will be another instance in which the Blues cannot come close to recouping some of the £97.5 million they paid less than two years ago.

Mauricio Pochettino will almost certainly have his say on the striker, who has 12 goals and five assists this season, but the likelihood is that he will not fit in the incoming Chelsea manager’s system, and Lukaku will face immediate pressure, with performances required to appease disgruntled Chelsea supporters after his frustrated interview in December 2021.

There is minimal evidence that Inter are in a financial position to adequately pay Chelsea for Lukaku’s signing, and there is little evidence of transfer market competition. Given Chelsea’s need for a striker and their reluctance to sell him for a reasonable amount, the forward may have a future with the club. A predicament comparable to the one Kepa Arriabalaga has found himself in recently.

However, reducing the fat off Chelsea’s squad will be more crucial in the long run, and Pochettino will have little time for ill-advised trials as he attempts to propel Chelsea back into Premier League contention.

Chelsea’s record cost has left Mauricio Pochettino with a vexing Romelu Lukaku transfer problem.

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