Premier League

Lukaku will face difficult Chelsea crossroads when he returns from miserable Inter Milan loan

Lukaku will face difficult Chelsea crossroads when he returns from miserable Inter Milan loan

With his loan at Inter Milan having not worked out Romelu Lukaku is showing signs of wear and tear, but Chelsea have moved on so where does he go next?


For those who appreciate their catenaccio, it was almost the perfect result. A 0-0 draw for Inter away from home against Porto to follow up a 1-0 win thanks to a late penalty in the first leg would have had Helenio Herrera smiling approvingly. But for Romelu Lukaku, it was a day of mixed blessings.

On the one hand, he was the player who’d scored the only goal of an important Champions League knockout tie.

But on the other, it would appear that his club will not be taking up the option to keep him beyond the end of this season, meaning that he will return to a very different Stamford Bridge to the one he left on loan last summer. This will come at the end of an injury-plagued season which has had nothing like the triumphant homecoming he may have envisioned when he arrived back in Milan, and considering how far down he’d likely find himself in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge, it’s worth asking what happens to him now.

The contrast with his last spell in Milan is stark. Between 2019 and 2021, having escaped the listing ship at Manchester United, he exploded into the most successful period of his career, winning a Serie A title, finishing as a runner-up in the Europa League and scoring 64 goals in 95 games in all competitions. It was enough to persuade Chelsea to part with £97.5m in the ill-fated move that took him to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2021.

Inter can hardly be said to have had a disastrous season this time around; they’re second in Serie A and in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. But Lukaku has had a rough time of things in the main. Injuries kept him out for most of the first half of the season. In total, he’s played just 18 games so far this season in all competitions and has scored just five goals, of which only three have come in the league.

He certainly couldn’t be said to have been eased into the professional game. Lukaku made his debut for Anderlecht just 11 days after his 16th birthday and he’s been going pretty much full pelt since then. Despite the fact that he’s still 10 weeks shy of his 30th birthday, he’s played 570 club games in all competitions, plus a further 104 international matches for Belgium. Small wonder he’s been showing signs of wear and tear. One of the costs of not being raised by a superclub is that they can seldom afford to…

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