Chelsea have been here before, selling high-value squad members and coming away from the deal looking better off.
Romelu Lukaku should be no different from Juan Mata and Kevin De Bruyne. We know where Jose Mourinho stands with the Belgian forward. If the Chelsea manager was telling us one thing publically, Lukaku was confirming that there was no inconsistency with what the Portuguese was actually thinking: he wants to move on the current Everton loanee.
It’s being reported that Chelsea will offer Atletico Madrid the option of Lukaku in an attempt to sweeten their bid for Diego Costa. In fairness to Chelsea and, as good as Lukaku has looked over these past two seasons, Atletico would be better off taking the £32 million rather than reducing that fee and taking Lukaku as a makeweight.
It’s highly unlikely Chelsea would offer the Belgian as well as pay Costa’s buyout clause in full.
But it’s no loss for Chelsea. The club spent £18million on Lukaku in 2011 and will at least get that money back, possibly from a rival Premier League club. That means they break even on a player they never really used, nor, likely, had any intention of using. Anything above that figure and Chelsea have completed another shrewd piece of business. They’d be hoping Uefa are watching, I’m sure.
There is, of course, an argument to say Chelsea would be that much stronger if they retained Lukaku next season to play backup to Costa. It’s not set in stone that all three of Chelsea’s current strikers will be sold, and regardless of how underwhelming they’ve all been throughout this past campaign, any of them staying on as a third choice would further fuel the club’s drive towards the Premier League title.
It’s just incredibly difficult to see that scenario playing out. There doesn’t appear to be a working relationship between Mourinho and Lukaku, and it’s unlikely they’ll develop one over the next few months. Stamford Bridge has been soured for the Belgian due to the assumption he’d get very little playing time.
He’s clearly ambitious in the way he speaks and prepares ahead of games. Sitting on the bench for prolonged spells doesn’t suit him. Internationally, there’s a lot to contest with considering the attacking options in the Belgium squad.
Chelsea have a lot backing up their advertisement of Lukaku this summer – provided it comes to that. Most hold the opinion that the 21-year-old is good enough to be a central figure in a title race and at the very least an effective forward in top European competition. Lukaku is the perfect blend of what most clubs are looking for in the Premier League, which makes it all the more odd that Chelsea, and Mourinho specifically, see no future with the player.
If Chelsea get their money back on Lukaku – and all signs indicate that they will – it will make up for much of the fee spent on Costa, and let’s not forget that Chelsea will then need at least one more forward to fill out the squad.
They’re losing a potentially world-class player, but they’re gaining one too. And on the financial front, the sale of Lukaku plays to the same tune of the last two major sales at Stamford Bridge.
Bottom line: excellent business.