Internazionale remain determined not to sell Romelu Lukaku after rejecting Chelsea’s bid of €100m (£85.4m), including Marcos Alonso, for the Belgium striker.
Thomas Tuchel is keen to sign a striker and Lukaku is seen as a more realistic target than Erling Haaland, who is likely to remain at Borussia Dortmund for another season. Chelsea hope Inter’s financial difficulties will eventually force them into selling their top asset and they are weighing up whether to test the Serie A club’s resolve with an improved offer.
Lukaku played a key role in Inter winning Serie A last season, scoring 24 goals and registering 11 assists. The 28-year-old has blossomed into one of the world’s top strikers since leaving Manchester United for Italy in 2019 and is seen by Tuchel as a player who can turn Chelsea’s inconsistent attack into one capable of challenging for the Premier League title.
Chelsea have also looked at a deal for Haaland but have received little encouragement that Dortmund are going to shift their stance on the 21-year-old. Dortmund are under little financial pressure after selling Jadon Sancho to United for £73m and it is likely to take an enormous offer to make them consider parting company with Haaland.
Chelsea, who have put Tammy Abraham up for sale, need extra firepower after selling Olivier Giroud to Milan and have been weighing up several options. They have monitored Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski and are interested in Tottenham’s Harry Kane. However they acknowledge that the chances of Spurs selling to their London rivals are almost nonexistent.
That leaves Lukaku as the most attainable target. Inter, who have sold Achraf Hakimi to Paris Saint-Germain for up to €70m, need to raise funds and there were doubts over Lukaku’s future after the departure of Antonio Conte as manager in May. Lukaku had a close relationship with Conte, who left after falling out with the board, and has proved himself in the Premier League.
However Lukaku, who had a spell at Chelsea before being sold to Everton in 2014, remains happy at Inter. He has held productive talks with Simone Inzaghi, Conte’s replacement, and there are few signs that he will push for a move, placing the onus on Chelsea to make Inter an offer too big to turn down. The deal could be harder to pull off if Inter raise funds by selling their Argentinian forward Lautaro Martínez, who has been linked with Arsenal.
Chelsea need to lighten their squad and are open to selling Alonso. The left-back is not a regular starter under Tuchel.
Chelsea remain in talks with Sevilla over a deal for Jules Koundé. They are yet to reach an agreement over a fee for the France centre-back and are likely to need to sell a defender to make the transfer happen. Kurt Zouma is available and has been offered to Sevilla as part of a deal. However Zouma would prefer to stay in London and has been targeted by West Ham, who are also interested in the Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic.