Jose Mourinho makes Chelsea transfer claim amid Christopher Nkunku question

Jose Mourinho makes major Chelsea transfer claim amid Christopher Nkunku question

Few Chelsea fans dare waste any time thinking about Romelu Lukaku. Not once, but twice did the Belgian goal machine flatter to deceive at Stamford Bridge.

Will he get a third opportunity? Unlikely. A damning interview berating Thomas Tuchel crushed any hopes of becoming a Blues hero just four months after returning for £90million.

Publicly expressing his desire to rejoin Inter Milan has resulted in Lukaku being vilified by Chelsea fans ever since. Even when bereft of goalscoring options, with their side netting just 38 Premier League goals last season, a vehement opposition to Lukaku’s return was unanimous across West London.

While the 30-year-old has been reduced to a mere afterthought in England, he is dominating the news agenda in Italy. Over 1,100 miles away, Lukaku is preparing for a hostile return to the San Siro.

I Nerazzurri previously eulogised Lukaku – but not anymore. Scoring 24 goals to fire Inter to a famous Serie A title – the catalyst for his Chelsea move – has long been forgotten.

In the summer, Lukaku was widely expected to make his loan move permanent. That is despite an injury-ravaged campaign and a horror show in the Champions League final against Manchester City.

Reports suggested terms were close to being agreed until news emerged that he had also been negotiating with Juventus. Vitriol ensued, with Inter pulling the plug on the deal.

Fans were so angry that a banner reading “Villainous Lukaku” was unveiled in Rome. While here, in England, we may regard that as pettiness or vindictive, it is a far game as far as Inter are concerned.

Lukaku returning to the San Siro even dominated the headlines ahead of the club’s 2-1 win over Red Bull Salzburg in the Champions League. Speaking pre-match, Inter boss Simone Inzaghi was forced to deflect the Lukaku issue.

“It will be a difficult match,” he said. “Roma are a great team. From tomorrow (after RB Salzburg game) we’ll start thinking about it. It will be a difficult match against an organised team, with great players. And among them there is Lukaku.”

His counterpart this weekend is a man Chelsea fans know all too well. Jose Mourinho was a key reason why Lukaku moved to Roma and, in classic Mourinho fashion, whataboutery was weaponized.

“Lukaku will play,” Mourinho told Italian media. “It’s a very difficult, important match. He is important for us, especially without (Paulo) Dybala and (Lorenzo] Pellegrini. Lukaku must play.

“I didn’t know he was so important in Milan because of what he did, winning the Scudetto, two cups… 200 players in Inter (since) have won a Super Cup. It is interesting to understand why, if Lukaku goes from Inter to Roma to help his coach it is a drama, while in the past (Fabio) Cannavaro went from Inter to Juve without problems. (Christian) Vieri no problem, Romelu at Roma is a surprise because I didn’t think he would be in the hearts of the Inter fans.”

As Chelsea take on Brentford this weekend, the remnants of a bygone era at Stamford Bridge will make headlines on the continent. Both Mourinho and Lukaku are ex-Inter pupils and, much like their relationship in England, are now longer revered by their former admirers.

With a whopping two-and-a-half years left on his Blues contract, the final chapter might not be written in Lukaku’s Chelsea story. Not even the most optimistic fan will be banking on a third-time charm should the Belgian come back with his tail between those legs.

Former Chelsea winger Shaun Wright-Phillips has made a bold claim that Lukaku will return to Stamford Bridge to partner Christopher Nkunku next season.

The France international was confirmed as Mauricio Pochettino’s first signing as he arrived from RB Leipzig and former Blues Wright-Phillips believes Lukaku will return to play in attack with the 25-year-old.

“(Having no striker) was their biggest crime,” he said. “Yes, they were losing matches and conceding goals, but it wasn’t that they weren’t making chances, it was that they weren’t scoring them. They need someone to put the ball in the back of the net and Rom is a striker.

“Poch could get something out of him, maybe with Christopher Nkunku playing behind him.”

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