Inter Milan have completed the re-signing of Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku on a season-long loan.
The 29-year-old Belgian marksman returns to the San Siro after spending one season back at Stamford Bridge where he largely flattered to deceive. Lukaku could only manage eight goals across 26 league appearances, ending a nine-season run of reaching double figures in top-flight outings.
Welcome back Rom 🖤💙 pic.twitter.com/VNnIZyMjs5
— Inter (@Inter) June 29, 2022
Having initially joined from boyhood club Anderlecht in 2011, the native of Antwerp was seldom used by the Blues and would enjoy loan spells at West Brom and Everton before signing permanently for the latter. It was Lukaku’s strong displays in front of goal — 68 goals in 141 league appearances — that convinced Manchester United to part with £75m for his services.
Although reuniting with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, there was a slight dip in form and Lukaku departed Old Trafford with just 42 goals across 96 matches in all competitions. A move to Italy would reinvigorate the much-maligned centre-forward and before returning to London he bagged 47 goals in 72 league appearances. His most recent campaign with Inter saw the Nerazzurri end an 11-year wait to be crowned Italian champions.
Lukaku’s performances, his age having him at his peak, and Inter’s financial problems had clubs circling and the Belgian was one of the main stars to leave last summer, re-joining Chelsea.
The Belgian’s first spell at Chelsea was a brief one, signing as a teenager and enjoying more success on loan than he did at the club he supported, playing just 15 times with no goals scored. But this was a different Lukaku that Chelsea were paying £97.5m for and he got off to an excellent start, netting on his second debut against Arsenal and bagging a brace against Aston Villa two matches later.
However, Lukaku then suffered a drought in the Premier League, not scoring for eight matches with time out of the team due to injury and then coronavirus. Things got worse for Lukaku when, just after scoring twice in two games after returning to the team, an interview with Sky Italia was published in which the Belgian expressed his desire to return to Inter and unhappiness with the way Chelsea were playing under Thomas Tuchel.
Lukaku was dropped from the team for the next game and he never truly recovered on the pitch, ending the campaign with just 15 goals. Although he was Chelsea’s top scorer across all competitions, and scored twice to help Chelsea win the Club World Cup, the 15 goals certainly didn’t live up to the high price the Blues paid for Lukaku. The Belgian also suffered a fractured relationship with some Chelsea fans who couldn’t look past the Sky Italia interview.
Speaking on what convinced him to return to Inter, Lukaku said: “The affection of the fans and my team-mates, but also the opportunity to work with the coach. I stayed in contact with him all last season.
“I think the coach is doing well with the team: I want to contribute and do good for this club.”
However, Lukaku’s return hasn’t been well received by all. The club’s ultras have issued a warning to Lukaku that he must re-earn their respect after his “betrayal” of leaving the club last summer.
Following Lukaku’s controversial interview with Sky Italia, Inter’s Curva Nord ultra group displayed a banner outside the San Siro which read: “It doesn’t matter who runs away in the rain, it matters who stays in the storm. Bye Romelu.”
They have now doubled down on their frustration towards the Belgian marksman, issuing a statement on social media that stated: “We took note of Lukaku’s betrayal and we were very upset.
“No one should go to welcome him with scarves or banners. He was supported (and treated) like a king, now he is one like many.
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“Everything that in the future will eventually be done towards him will have to earn it on the field with humility and sweat.
“It is also clear to everyone that we will never cheer against Lukaku if he wears the Inter shirt again.
“However, we invite all Inter fans not to fall into the opposite trap, that of running immediately and drooling after him.
“We are not gentlemen at the mercy of the moves of players and clubs. To a player these things can be forgiven over time, but they remain. Now Romelu long ball and pedal.”