Chelsea flop Lukaku edging towards Italy return – media
Chelsea and Inter Milan are reported to be holding high-level discussions about the potential transfer of Romelu Lukaku back to the Serie A team – less than a year after Roman Abramovich smashed the London club's transfer record to sign the Belgian international for a second time.
Lukaku was considered to be the missing piece in Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea jigsaw when he completed his transfer to the Blues for a sum just under £100 million ($120 million), but the big forward flattered to deceive at Stamford Bridge, scoring just 15 times in 44 appearances.
The 29-year-old also drew the ire of the club and its fans due to a December interview in which he detailed to Italian media his unhappiness at Chelsea not tailoring their system to accommodate him – an incident which was understood to have enraged the Chelsea hierarchy and led to German boss Tuchel dropping him from the first team.
It is thought that all parties consider a return to the San Siro as being the most obvious next step as Chelsea look to cut their losses and recoup some of the fee they splashed out a year ago amid new owner Todd Boehly's first transfer window in west London.
Reports have indicated that the most likely scenario is that Lukaku will initially return to Italy on a loan deal, with Chelsea angling for a rental price of £17 million for one season and then a mandatory transfer fee which would come into action in one year's time.
However, it is thought that the fee could be dropped if Inter Milan agree to send one of their players to Chelsea in exchange.
Chelsea have been linked in the press with a move for Inter's Slovakian international defender Milan Skrinriar.
The deal to sign Lukaku would need to be completed by June 30 to take advantage of the 'growth decree' in Italian football – a tax law which was implemented to assist Italian clubs in signing big-name players, and essentially means that a percentage of a player's annual salary would be subsidized by the Italian government.
Such is Lukaku's desire to return to Inter, where he scored 64 times in 95 appearances across his two seasons in Italy, that he is said to be willing to take a 50% pay cut to fast-track the move. He is thought to be on around £325,000 per week at Chelsea.
Chelsea are once again permitted to hold transfer talks following the Todd Boehly-fronted consortium takeover of the club from former owner Roman Abramovich, who was sanctioned by the UK government in the wake of the Russian military campaign in Ukraine.
The final weeks of Abramovich's tenure saw the club operate under a special license from the UK government due to it being listed as one of the Russian's assets, which meant that the club's financials were severely impacted.
But the new ownership has pledged to continue the high level of investment in players – with the first order of business apparently being to correct some of the more costly mistakes from the previous leadership.