Romelu Lukaku is unlikely to feature in the Blues’ Premier League opener against Crystal Palace on Saturday, despite the transfer being officially announced on Thursday.
Chelsea have confirmed a club-record £97.5m deal to take Lukaku to Stamford Bridge for a second time, with the 28-year-old believed to have signed a five-year contract worth £196,000 per week.
The forward underwent the main body of his medical in Milan on Monday before flying to Nice to extend his representation agreement with agent Federico Pastorello, and then on to London on Wednesday evening – touching down at Kent’s Biggin Hill Airport.
The deal was finally announced on Thursday, but The Athletic report that it is unlikely to be available on to face Palace, although the reason is not specified.
Chelsea had hoped to have Lukaku available for the Super Cup against Villarreal on Wednesday night, but once that deadline passed they were aiming for their opening Premier League match at home to the Eagles at 3pm on Saturday. That now seems optimistic, though.
That means Lukaku will likely make his second Chelsea debut in the London derby against Arsenal on 22 August – get it in the diary, Blues fans.
Blues owner Roman Abramovich and head coach Thomas Tuchel had both sanctioned the pursuit of an elite striker following the squad’s struggles in front of goal last season, and the club’s negotiators turned their attentions to Lukaku when talks over a £135m move for Borussia Dortmund frontman Erling Haaland reached an impasse.
The Belgian netted 24 times in Serie A last season and laid on ten more as the Nerazzurri claimed a first Scudetto for a decade, ending Juventus’ era of domestic dominance.
Inter‘s finances have been hit hard by the pandemic, with boss Antonio Conte leaving the club as they couldn’t guarantee that his stars would be kept – Achraf Hakimi has already departed for Paris Saint-Germain, and Lukaku will leave too.
90min revealed on Thursday that Lukaku was left devastated by Conte’s decision to exit San Siro, and that was the moment his stance changed about staying with with the Serie A winners.