Graham Potter set to be handed Wesley Fofana Champions League headache amid injury crisis
Romelu Lukaku will not be staying at Inter Milan beyond the end of this season regardless of how he finishes the campaign, with the forward set to return to Chelsea. The 29-year-old has netted just three times in 14 Serie A matches since returning to San Siro last summer, with his form affected by a string of injury issues in the first half of the season.
He has enjoyed a more prominent role in the side in recent weeks, netting off the bench in last month’s Champions League home leg against Porto – which proved to be the decisive goal as Inter progressed to the quarter-finals.
Last Friday, Lukaku also managed to play the full 90 minutes for the first time since the opening day of the season, netting in a 2-1 defeat to Spezia. However, Inter have lingering concerns over Lukaku’s lack of fitness, with CEO Giuseppe Marotta recently revealing that the Belgian was ‘carrying 103kg on his shoulders’ and is still not 100 per cent match fit.
Chelsea are thought to be keen to offload Lukaku – either permanently or on loan again – but Marotta has now stated that Inter will not be looking to extend the striker’s stay.
‘The loan was for one season so on June 30, regardless of how well he plays, he’ll go back to Chelsea,’ the Inter chief told Sky Italy. ‘This has been an unprecedented season – I’m referring of course to the World Cup. Lukaku hasn’t found the fitness he needs to play his best football. ‘He’s still not at his best or the player we got to see in years gone by.’
Lukaku bagged 24 goals and 11 assists in the 2020/21 season with Inter, firing them to the Scudetto before opting to return to Stamford Bridge. However, he only netted eight times in 26 appearances on his return to the Premier League last season and fell out with then manager Thomas Tuchel before being loaned back to Inter.
The appointment of Graham Potter is not expected to provide a lifeline for Lukaku’s Chelsea career, with the west London club having made signing a new striker one of their top transfer priorities for the summer window.
Chelsea had hoped Inter would take Lukaku on loan for a second season – but that won’t happen now – and they will likely need to take a massive hit on the £97m they paid less than two years ago to offload him permanently.