Who could replace Lukaku at Chelsea?
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Romelu Lukaku’s return to the Premier League was everything he would have hoped it wouldn’t be. The Belgian looks set to put an end to his poor spell at Chelsea by pressing for a move to Inter Milan, and Thomas Tuchel is looking for replacements.
Lukaku scored eight in 26 Premier League appearances, and his displays fell well below what was expected of the £97.5million signing. The former Manchester United forward never looked entirely at home at Stamford Bridge, and Goal reports that he is set to depart.
They say that the striker is pushing for a move, so much so that Chelsea are willing to reduce their loan fees in order to let him return to Inter Milan. There is also the feeling behind the scenes that Tuchel is not the best manager to get the best out of Lukaku, despite some senior officials trying to ‘appease’ the player.
Therefore, the Blues are back in the market for a goalscorer – though they are taking a different approach to their title rivals. The report goes on to state that Tuchel is looking at ‘inside forwards’ that can press highly; Manchester City duo Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling are being considered, as well as RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku.
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Jesus has been heavily linked with a move away from the Etihad Stadium this summer, with the arrival of Erling Haaland pushing him further down the pecking order. Arsenal are keen to sign the Brazilian, and their lack of a no.9 means he will be one of the first names on the team sheet under Mikel Arteta, but Chelsea could look to compete with their London rivals for the versatile forward.
It has also been speculated that Sterling is also looking for a summer move, and his contract expiring in 2023 means that it would also benefit City to part ways with the England international if he has no intention of extending his deal. The 27-year-old is thought to be on the radar of several top European clubs – such as Barcelona and Real Madrid – but given that Sterling has spent his entire career in the Premier League, he may feel more comfortable at Chelsea if an offer arrives.
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Of course, City will charge the Blues a top price for either Sterling or Jesus given that they would be strengthening a direct title rival. That could be enough for Tuchel to turn his attention elsewhere, and Nkunku of Leipzig is an obvious target given he was one of the most impressive players in Europe last season.
The Frenchman scored 35 and assisted 16 in 58 appearances in all competitions, playing in numerous positions for the Bundesliga side due to his ability to play anywhere across the frontline or in midfield. Leipzig are thought to have slapped an enormous £100m price tag on their playmaker, though Goal reports that new owner Todd Boehly has made it clear that he is willing to back Tuchel at any cost.
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