“I supported Chelsea as a child and now it is an important feeling to be again and attempt to assist them win extra titles.”
Lower than 12 months later, the Belgian striker leaves the membership within the type of probably the most costly switch errors in Premier League historical past.
Lukaku’s return to Chelsea on a five-year deal value the Blues a membership report £ 97.5m, however he departs 10 months afterward a primary mortgage settlement after failing to get the impact each he and the membership would have hoped for.
His signing was imagined to make Chelsea the Premier League title challenger, so how and why did all of it go so fallacious?
A transfer that ought to by no means have occurred?
When Chelsea introduced the re-signing of Lukaku, it seemed like they’d secured the final piece of the puzzle.
The 29-year-old had simply loved a improbable season at Inter, scoring 24 league targets and delivering 11 assists because the Italian workforce ended a decade of Juventus dominance to win the Serie A title.
Lukaku additionally had unfinished enterprise at Chelsea. He first joined them as a youngster from Anderlecht in 2011, however left three years later after failing to attain.
“I am comfortable and blessed to be again on this great membership,” Lukaku mentioned as he returned to Stamford Bridge.
“It has been a protracted journey for me. I got here right here as a toddler who had loads to be taught, now I come again with lots of expertise and extra mature.”
The motivation and lineage was there whereas Chelsea desperately wanted a striker. It was a transfer that made good sense.
He couldn’t have hoped for a greater second debut when he scored in a 2-0 win over Arsenal on 22 August, nevertheless it didn’t take lengthy earlier than issues settled down.
After scoring twice in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa on 11 September, Lukaku didn’t rating one other Premier League purpose till 26 December.
“He was seen because the final piece of the puzzle,” Chelsea fan and cfcuk fanzine author Tim Rolls advised BBC Sport.
“Folks had been excited. We had quick vast gamers and he was the piece that might full the puzzle. He was anticipated to make us candidates.
“At first he seemed just like the enterprise, however for some motive it fell in a short time.”
Accidents and a recreation of coronavirus didn’t assist, however on the pitch he confirmed solely a little bit of the power, hold-up play and ending potential that helped him rating 47 targets in two seasons at Inter.
Regardless of Lukaku’s phrases on his return, the attacker appeared unmotivated at occasions.
An interview with Sky Italia in December appeared to verify that view as he mentioned he was “not comfortable” together with his function at Blues.
“That [the return to Inter] has been Lukaku-driven. He made it very clear within the interview he gave, “Italian soccer knowledgeable James Horncastle advised BBC Radio 5 Stay.
“I believe the subtitle of it was that it was not his determination to go away Inter. It was due to the monetary stress and stress that the membership was below on the time.
“The circumstances of his departure performed loads on his thoughts and made him confused.”
The glove that simply didn’t match
In that Sky Italia interview, Lukaku made it clear that a lot of his unhappiness at Chelsea was because of how he was utilized by supervisor Thomas Tuchel.
The German coach shortly dismissed the declare that his system didn’t play to Lukaku’s strengths, but he struggled to realize affect as he performed.
When Chelsea beat Crystal Palace 1-0 in February, Lukaku managed simply seven touches of the ball – the fewest for a participant who was within the full 90 minutes of a Premier League match.
“It isn’t concerning the system,” Tuchel mentioned afterwards.
“There isn’t a change to the system as a result of it’s the similar assault construction. We at all times assault in a 4-1, it is just for the build-up, typically we’re in a 3-2, typically in a 4-1. For him it doesn’t change something. “
Regardless of his struggles, Lukaku completed final season as Chelsea’s high scorer with 15 targets in all competitions, however given the numerous price paid to purchase him, Tuchel and Chelsea followers anticipated him to contribute extra.
“As a result of he value a lot, he have to be certainly one of Chelsea’s worst signatures,” Rolls added.
“After we purchased Diego Costa, he made a right away affect on the workforce. He was a frontrunner, however Lukaku was virtually the alternative.
“The opposite forwards might need been on the lookout for him to guide, and he didn’t. We had been on the helm.”
Lukaku had additionally been linked with Manchester Metropolis final summer season and Micah Richards believes that might have been the very best transfer for him.
“I believe if Lukaku was on Manchester Metropolis’s workforce he would rating targets,” the previous Metropolis defender advised The Monday Night time Membership final month.
“I believe that is the distinction – that is the system.”
Will Inter return to Lukaku?
Inter had been unable to defend their title final season and completed in second place after rivals AC Milan, though scoring was not an issue for Simone Inzaghi’s workforce, with no workforce scoring greater than Inter’s 84 league targets.
However the Italian workforce will see the return of a participant who has scored 34 and 30 targets in his two earlier seasons on the membership as a step that may give them a head begin over their rivals within the upcoming marketing campaign.
Lukaku turns 30 subsequent 12 months, so time is not on his facet, however a contented Lukaku is a scoring Lukaku, and it’s clear that this can be a transfer that fits all events.
“There have been murals of Lukaku when he was final at Inter,” Horncastle added. “He was named the very best participant in Serie A for a 12 months the place [Cristiano] Ronaldo was the highest scorer – he was so good.
“It is clear that he felt he was taking part in his finest soccer at Inter, that they understood him, that he understood them.
“He ought to by no means have gone.”