Internazionale have started talks with Chelsea over signing Romelu Lukaku on a loan, with the striker increasingly confident his wish to join his former club will be granted.
Chelsea told Lukaku last week they were prepared to let him leave and the chances of a deal going through will hinge on how much Inter are willing to pay as a loan fee for the 29-year-old and whether they are prepared to pick up a large portion of his £325,000-a-week wages. The Italian club cannot afford to sign him on a permanent basis.
Lukaku, who endured a turbulent season after joining Chelsea for a club record £97.5m, is aware he could need to take a wage cut if the transfer is to go through. Chelsea are also likely to need to subsidise part of his earnings. They are seeking about £20m for the loan, with Inter hopeful of paying a smaller fee.
Reports in Italy have suggested that Inter, who have also been trying to sign Paulo Dybala, could offer players to Chelsea in return for Lukaku. Denzel Dumfries, the right wing-back, is the latest linked with Chelsea, though a loan is a likelier outcome.
There is hope on all sides that the Lukaku deal will go through. Thomas Tuchel does not see Lukaku as part of his plans and Chelsea’s new owners, Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital, are ready to back their manager. Lukaku does not fit into Tuchel’s system and is desperate for a reunion with Inter. His goals helped them win the Serie A title in 2021.
Tuchel, who is also ready to listen to offers for Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and Christian Pulisic, is seeking to bring in forwards. Chelsea have targeted Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus, RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku and Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembélé, who is set to be available on a free transfer.
Tuchel coached Dembélé at Borussia Dortmund and is thought to feel he could get the best out of the 25-year-old, who has struggled for consistency and fitness since joining Barcelona in 2017. It would take a huge fee to convince Leipzig to sell Nkunku.
Chelsea are also looking to bolster their defence after losing Antonio Rüdiger to Real Madrid and Andreas Christensen to Barcelona. They are likely to push ahead with a deal to sign Sevilla’s Jules Koundé even though the France centre-back had surgery on a long-standing groin problem this week.
Boehly has been an active figure at Chelsea this month and he has impressed supporters by announcing that £2 booking fees for general admission tickets to home games will be scrapped.