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Chelsea closing on Romelu Lukaku after striker tells Inter he wants move

·4-min read
<span>Photograph: Massimo Pinca/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Massimo Pinca/Reuters

Romelu Lukaku is closing on a move to Chelsea after informing Internazionale of his desire to return to the European champions.

Chelsea are preparing a new bid for Lukaku after having an offer rejected this week and the deal is beginning to look inevitable despite Inter’s reluctance to sell the striker.

Related: Premier League 2021-22 preview No 6: Chelsea

Inter’s financial difficulties mean that they need to make a big sale and it is increasingly likely they will be forced to part company with their best player. Chelsea hope that a bid of €120m (£102m) will be enough to land Lukaku, who spent three years on their books from 2011.

Lukaku played a key role in his club winning Serie A last season and he has previously shown little desire to move back to England. In June he pledged his future to Inter but the Belgium international has had a change of heart.

Chelsea’s determination to sign him is understood to have convinced the former Manchester United and Everton player that it is time for a new challenge. Lukaku is set to become the most expensive signing in Chelsea’s history if he joins, and he could earn about £250,000 a week. The 28-year-old is seen as a more attainable target than Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland and Tottenham’s Harry Kane.

Following Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Spurs on Wednesday night in a Stamford Bridge friendly, Thomas Tuchel was asked about his interest in Lukaku.

He said: “I will not talk about players who don’t play in my squad. He is a fantastic player but a player from Inter and with all due respect I will not talk about him. Not everybody but I can imagine a lot of players want to come and join [Chelsea] but we don’t comment on that.”

On the need for a top-class striker, the Chelsea manager added: “I think with the exit from Olivier Giroud [to Milan] we could use a player used to playing with their back to goals whose strength is to keep possession from long balls, so we can add this direct style of play to our portfolio and this is the characteristic of player that is not Tammy, Tino or Kai so this is a profile we don’t have in the squad and could be useful but not for any cost. We are relaxed and very well aware of our situation at the same time.”

Chelsea’s pursuit of Sevilla’s Jules Koundé has stalled after their attempts to make space in their squad for a new defender were frustrated by Kurt Zouma’s refusal to join West Ham.

Tuchel is on the hunt for defensive reinforcements and has identified Koundé as a key target. However,

Chelsea are yet to reach an agreement with Sevilla on a price for the France centre-back, with the uncertainty over Zouma’s future causing negotiations to slow down.

Koundé has a release clause of €80m (£68m), which Chelsea are not willing to trigger.

They initially proposed paying €35m for the 22-year-old and including Zouma, only to find that Sevilla want more money. Sevilla do not agree with Chelsea’s £30m valuation of Zouma because they are unsure of the 26-year-old defender’s resale value and have decided to hold out for at least €60m for Koundé, who is one of the best centre-backs in Spain.

Chelsea’s squad contains four centre-backs, with César Azpilicueta and Reece James also capable of operating on the right side of a back three, and they will need to move one on to facilitate a move for Koundé. Zouma is available after falling down the pecking order under Tuchel and there was a sense that the centre-back would favour a move to West Ham instead of Sevilla after they registered their interest last week.

Although the Frenchman is settled in London, he has left West Ham disappointed after indicating that he does not want to join them. West Ham had held talks with Chelsea over a fee but they are likely to switch their focus to other targets. David Moyes has looked at the Fiorentina centre-back Nikola Milenkovic.

Chelsea have also gauged Sevilla’s interest in Kenedy and Emerson Palmieri..

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