Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta has confirmed that striker Romelu Lukaku will return to Chelsea in the summer of 2023, at the end of his loan deal with the Belgian forward.
“The loan deal is only valid for one season, so on June 30, Lukaku will return to Chelsea, regardless of how well he performs,” Marotta told Sky Italy.
In the summer of 2022, Inter loaned Lukaku from Chelsea on a one-year deal with a Romelu Lukaku transfer fee of $8.3 million, without an obligation to buy in the summer of 2023. The Belgian forward accepted a nearly 50% reduction in income and wore the number 90 jersey at the Italian club.
But according to Marotta, Lukaku “is not at his best physical and form” to perform as he did when he played for Inter from 2019-2021. In those two seasons, the Belgian striker scored 64 goals in 95 matches, helping the Milan-based team win the Serie A title in 2020-2021 and reach the Europa League final in 2019-2020, where they lost 2-3 to Sevilla due to Lukaku’s own goal. “We still haven’t seen the real Lukaku as before,” said Inter’s CEO.
Marotta believes that the 2022 World Cup could be the reason for Lukaku’s decline. “This is an unprecedented season,” he added. “The problems that Inter faced have also occurred with other clubs and players who played in the World Cup. Lukaku is a typical example, and Marcelo Brozovic couldn’t maintain his form either.”
In fact, Lukaku’s current season has been interrupted by issues with fitness, injuries, and doubts about his desire and motivation to play. The Belgian forward has missed 12 games in Serie A due to injury, and when he does play, he often appears slow, tired, and lacking speed, and explosiveness compared to when he first joined the club. In total, Lukaku has scored only three goals in Serie A and two in the Champions League. He was also one of the most valuable football players in the world.
On BoboTV, former striker Christian Vieri hinted that Lukaku’s decline has caused Inter to fall 18 points behind Napoli in the race for the Serie A title this season. “Inter create 10 chances per game at home, they play very well,” the former Italian footballer said.
“Inter has Denzel Dumfries, Federico Dimarco who can cross the ball, and Nicolo Barella with good playmaking ability. Inter has players who put Lukaku in a favorable position. If I played in this Inter team, I would win the Golden Boot every year.”
Similarly, former Italian center-back Daniele Adani criticized Lukaku for lacking motivation and not having the qualities of a talented striker like Edin Dzeko in movement and connecting with the team’s play.
He added, “Lukaku’s style cannot be without fitness and regular training every week. If he is healthy, Lukaku gains more confidence and then technique, even the ability to dribble. But when he plays poorly, Lukaku becomes an ordinary player.”
In the summer of 2021, Lukaku exerted pressure to leave Inter and return to Chelsea on a $135 million contract, earning a weekly salary of around $350,000 – both records for the London club. He also has the highest combined transfer fees of all time.
However, the Belgian striker did not meet expectations, scoring only eight goals in the Premier League and 15 goals in 44 games across all competitions. Lukaku had hoped to regain his form upon returning to the familiar environment at Inter and Serie A.
The 29-year-old forward still has a contract with Chelsea until the summer of 2026. According to Football Italy, despite Marotta’s statements, Inter may negotiate with Chelsea to continue to loan Lukaku next season.
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