Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich believes former manager Jose Mourinho made a mistake in letting Romelu Lukaku leave the club, according to reports that suggest the club are ready to launch a bid to bring the Belgium striker back to Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho did not believe Lukaku could cut it at Chelsea and elected to allow him to leave the club to join Everton in a £28m transfer in 2014, having seen him impress while on loan the season before.
Despite Lukaku’s impressive form this season having scored 18 goals in the Premier League, Everton have not met pre-season expectations of challenging for a place in Europe, and the future of the 22-year-old has been thrown into serious doubt as a result.
According to The Sun, Antonio Conte – the man widely expected to be named as Chelsea’s new permanent manager once Guus Hiddink leaves at the end of the season – has already informed technical director Michael Emenalo that he wants Lukaku to return to the club in the summer.
One problem for Chelsea though will be Everton’s asking price, with the Toffees looking to double their money on any bid for their star striker and ready to hold out for anything well in excess of £50m.
Lukaku’s future could depend on Everton’s managerial plans this summer, with Roberto Martinez under pressure following a below-par season. With a new majority shareholder in place in the form of Farhad Moshiri who is willing to spend significant money on strengthening the first team, the club could elect to replace the Spaniard and hope that a new manager can persuade Lukaku to stay at Goodison Park.
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However, Lukaku spoke on Saturday to play down the links to United and Bayern, even though his father would like to see him there.
“Those are my dad’s point of view, I think they are the teams that he likes,” Lukaku told Sky Sports on Saturday. “It’s good. Of course it means that people are watching, but I have an agent who is dealing with this for me at the moment. I just want to be good, help my team-mates win games and score a lot of goals.”
I’m 23 next summer and I think it would be nice to play in the Champions League next season
However, he did reject the idea of returning to Chelsea, and sighted that both parties had “moved on” from his three-year spell with the club.
“I have nothing to prove against them,” he added. “I have moved on, they have moved on and it was the best deal for both teams because they won the league obviously, I became a better player so we’ll see what the future brings.”
Lukaku dropped a big hint that he will seek and exit from Everton in the summer, admitting that he believes he needs to be playing in the Champions League next season.
He said: “Yeah of course, that’s the next step for me. I’m 23 next summer and I think it would be nice to play in the Champions League next season.”
The Blues will be unable to offer Lukaku his wish of playing in the Champions League – for next season at least – while United could yet finish in the top four. The forward is expected to favour a club playing in Europe though, and his agent, Mino Raiola, will look to demand large wages for the player as well as a significant fee for his services, having shown similar intent in recent transfer for his other clients including Mario Balotelli and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.