Chelsea have re-signed striker Romelu Lukaku for a club-record £97.5m from Inter Milan.
Lukaku, who initially moved to Stamford Bridge as a 17-year-old from Belgian side Anderlecht in 2011, returns to Chelsea on a five-year deal that sees him become the highest-paid player at the club, earning £200,000 per week after tax.
The fee for Belgium’s record goalscorer surpasses the £75.8m paid for Kai Havertz last summer.
“I’m happy and blessed to be back at this wonderful club,” Lukaku told the club’s website. “It’s been a long journey for me: I came here as a kid who had a lot to learn, now I’m coming back with a lot of experience and more mature.
“The relationship I have with this club means so much to me, as you know. I have supported Chelsea as a kid and now to be back and try to help them win more titles is an amazing feeling.
“The way the club is going fits my ambitions perfectly at 28 and just coming off winning Serie A. I think this opportunity comes at the right time and hopefully we can have a lot of success together.
“Since I left Chelsea, it’s been a long journey with a lot of ups and downs, but these experiences made me strong and the challenge is to try to help the team win some more trophies. I can’t wait to get started and to help the club achieve more success.”
After leaving Chelsea in 2014, Lukaku became one of the most prolific strikers in Europe, scoring 87 goals in 166 games for Everton between 2014 and 2017, and 42 goals in 96 appearances during his two years at Manchester United before signing for Inter in 2019.
The 28-year-old scored 24 goals in Serie A last season, helping Inter to their first Scudetto in 11 years as the club put an end to Juventus’ nine-year reign as Italian top-flight champions.
Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said: “Romelu Lukaku is quite simply one of the world’s best strikers and goalscorers. We are absolutely delighted to be bringing him back to the club he loves, and are excited to be adding his talent to our Champions League-winning squad.
“We are of course looking to build on last season’s success, and Lukaku will play a big role in achieving our targets.”
Chelsea, who were also interested in signing Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, have been in the market to sign a striker following the sale of Olivier Giroud to AC Milan.
Lukaku asked Inter to agree a transfer with Chelsea, despite publicly saying he would be staying in Milan before Euro 2020.
Inter had initially regarded Lukaku as untouchable this summer, but altered their stance amid pressure to reduce their wage bill.
The lack of available funds at the Italian club saw Antonio Conte walk away from Inter in May. He was replaced with Simone Inzaghi.
Lukaku feels he has a point to prove at Stamford Bridge having failed to score a goal in 15 appearances during his first spell with the club.
His strained relationship with then-Chelsea head coach Andre Villas-Boas made life difficult for him and he did not get a real opportunity, while Jose Mourinho – in his second spell as Blues boss – sanctioned his sale to Everton, citing the difficulty of promising Lukaku a first-choice striking role.
This time around Lukaku has a Chelsea boss who fully believes in him, with Tuchel, who reckons the Belgian is one of the most complete forwards in world football, having personally asked the club to sign him.
‘A fantastic move on every level’
Belgium boss Roberto Martinez hailed the transfer as a “fantastic” move for Lukaku.
Having made his senior international debut as a 16-year-old in 2010, Lukaku has gone on to score 64 goals in 98 appearances for Belgium, helping them to a third-place finish at the 2018 World Cup.
“This is a fantastic move at every level,” Martinez said. “Romelu knows the Premier League inside out.
“He’s had an incredible two seasons. Not many people from the British game have had that level of impact that he had into a very important project. Inter Milan was a team built to try and win Serie A. That’s not easy, with Juventus winning nine titles consecutively, you can see the task.
“Romelu Lukaku became that focal player that a new project is built on. Very consistent, he became a leader on the pitch, and I think that degree of maturity is very evident in his game.
“Chelsea are taking Romelu Lukaku, a player that they know well because he signed for that club 10 years ago, but this is a very, very different player now. Probably at the best moment of his career.”
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