Roma director Tiago Pinto has admitted signing Romelu Lukaku was “impossible” at one point, but Jose Mourinho was “crucial” in pushing the deal through with Chelsea.
The Blues looked likely to ship Lukaku out the door throughout the summer. The striker was not involved in pre-season, after having been out on loan at Inter Milan the previous season.
What’s more, new boss Mauricio Pochettino signed two central strikers, meaning Lukaku was not needed. A move back to Serie A looked most likely, with both Juventus and Roma interested in snaring the Belgian attacker.
However, after Juventus dropped out of the race, any chance of Lukaku leaving might have disappeared, as Roma director Pinto has revealed that despite their interest, the deal wasn’t possible for them for a while.
“Lukaku deal was impossible for us in June and July. No way,” he said, quoted by Fabrizio Romano.
However, Pinto cited manager Mourinho and the club’s owners as the driving forces in that changing and the deal getting done.
“Mourinho has been crucial to make it happen, it took four to five days to convince Lukaku… then our owners Frienkdin entered talks with Chelsea and literally unlocked the negotiation,” Pinto added.
Lukaku eventually joined on loan, with Roma paying around £8million for the season. Mourinho driving the deal makes a lot of sense, with his Chelsea connections likely helping his side get the agreement in place.
Not only that, but the manager’s general desire to sign Lukaku, and ability to convince him into the move. Mourinho worked with the forward at both Chelsea and Manchester United, and the striker had a good season in Mourinho’s last full term at Old Trafford.
Indeed, in the 2017/18 campaign, under his management, Lukaku bagged 16 Premier League goals along with seven assists, as United finished second in the league.
That suggests that if anybody is able to get the best out of the Belgian after a rocky period of late, it’s probably Mourinho. Playing in a supportive environment under a manager who knows him, in a league he loves playing in, could allow him to find his feet.
Chelsea would have surely preferred to have sold Lukaku, as they’ve gotten almost nothing out of him after paying around £98million for him two years ago, but he’s still got a lengthy contract at Stamford Bridge, so if he performs well, somebody may take the plunge.