In Focus: Icardi provides Chelsea with Lukaku alternative

According to Bleacher Report, Chelsea are considering dropping their interest in Everton striker Romelu Lukaku to pursue a deal for Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi.

What’s the story?

Chelsea’s interest in bringing Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge this summer is no secret, although it is understood that Everton want a deal worth £100m for the Premier League’s leading scorer this season.

Chelsea are said to be wary of entering a long-running transfer saga ahead of the 2017-18 campaign, and according to Bleacher Report, Icardi is an alternative for Blues boss Antonio Conte.

The Argentine international, who is valued at £42.5m by transfermarkt.com, has scored 21 times in 30 Serie A appearances for Inter this season, whilst he is contracted to the Italian giants until the summer of 2021.

Inter are in a strong position when it comes to negotiations due to the length of time left on Icardi’s deal, but it is understood that Conte will be given significant funds to sign a new centre-forward at the end of the season, and the 24-year-old is seen as a viable alternative to Lukaku.

Why do Chelsea need a new striker?

It has been claimed that Chelsea are running out of patience with Diego Costa, who has scored just three Premier League goals in 2017 after being reportedly unsettled by interest from the Chinese Super League.

Indeed, in January, it is understood that Costa had a falling-out with Chelsea boss Conte after it emerged that teams from China were prepared to make the Spain international the highest-paid player in the world.

Costa still has two years remaining on his current deal at Stamford Bridge, but it is the second time in three years that the striker’s form has tailed off significantly in the second half of a Premier League season.

The Brazilian-born forward has not hidden his desire to return to former club Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, which is said to have further angered the board at Stamford Bridge.

Costa, 28, has scored 55 times in 109 appearances for Chelsea following a move from Atletico in 2014, but it is widely thought that the Premier League leaders are prepared to cut their losses.

As a result, a new centre-forward will be a priority signing for Chelsea this summer as the Blues look to compete on all fronts during the 2017-18 campaign.