Chelsea reportedly want a ‘counterpart’ as part of the deal that could see Romelu Lukaku return to Inter Milan on loan, with former strike partner Lautaro Martinez among those being targeted.
There have been widespread reports in recent days of Lukaku moving back to the Serie A club this summer.
The Belgian striker swapped Inter for Chelsea a year ago but has failed to settle at Stamford Bridge, scoring just eight goals in the Premier League last term, and infamously giving an interview in which he questioned Thomas Tuchel’s tactics and revealed his unhappiness.
On Tuesday it was claimed that Chelsea were considering allowing him to leave on loan for a fee of around £21m, while still paying two thirds of his wages, amounting to £200,000 a week.
And now, Gazzetto dello Sport (via Daily Mail) claim Chelsea are exploring the possibility of bringing in a player from Inter as part of the deal.
Three players are named as possibilities: Lukaku’s former striker partner Lautaro Martinez and centre-backs Milan Skriniar and Alessandro Bastoni.
The report adds that Tuchel is ready to sit down with new owner Todd Boehly to discuss a timeline for Lukaku’s exit, while Corriere dello Sport backs up the claim that Chelsea are seeking a £21m loan fee as Lukaku continues to push for the exit.
Former Blues full-back Glen Johnson believes it would be “best for both parties” if Lukaku leaves Chelsea this summer.
“I personally would want to go again next season and prove myself. But I feel with Lukaku that he’s had a whole season to show that sort of courage and he hasn’t.
“I can’t see anything changing next season. If he was the sort of player that can stand up and show courage next season, then I think we would have already seen hints of that.
“I can see him settling elsewhere because if he has that type of courage to bounce back in pre-season, then he should have had the courage to bounce back during his first season. I don’t see him bouncing back next season, so maybe a move somewhere else is best for both parties.”