Romelu Lukaku was left devastated by Antonio Conte’s decision to leave Inter and at that point he was more than open to leave the club, 90min can reveal.
Lukaku helped Inter to their first Scudetto in more than a decade as his 24 goals helped end Juventus’ run of nine successive Serie A titles.
The Belgian forward formed a devastating partnership with Lautaro Martinez, collectively known as ‘LuLa’, and was more than happy with life at San Siro. But the end of May, having secured the title, Conte departed as manager amid mounting concerns about the financial instability of the club.
Conte had arrived at Inter in 2019 and immediately sought out Lukaku as one of his priority targets. He was able to clinch his signing from Manchester United, having missed out on him during his time as Chelsea boss.
The Italian believed Lukaku was key to his plans and that is how things panned out; the 28-year-old resurrecting his career in Milan to become one of Europe’s most feared strikers.
However, in the background, debt was piling up at Inter, and the club’s Chinese-based ownership confirmed to Conte that instead of being backed to mount a title defence with new signings, sales were inevitable.
Conte departed and soon after Achraf Hakimi joined PSG in a deal worth around €60m – but that was always unlikely to be the only mega-money exit.
Inter always knew of, and anticipated, Roman Abramovich’s interest in signing Lukaku, which led the player to confirm he was happy to stay – but as the Belgian would point out, it was down to the club whether they would accept an offer.
However, while Lukaku wouldn’t have actively pushed for a move, sources close to the deal have explained that once Conte left it was “almost inevitable” that he would leave given Chelsea’s strong interest.
“Conte leaving was devastating to Romelu, to the club as a whole, and once that happened it was almost inevitable that he would go,” the source explained. “He never demanded a move, and never would of but once Chelsea confirmed their interest it was always going to happen. There is unfinished business for him and the club.”
Lukaku’s £97.5m return to Stamford Bridge is expected to be finalised imminently, taking him back to West London seven years after he left to join Everton.