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JUST IN: Todd Boehly shows ultimate faith in Thomas Tuchel by completing Romelu Lukaku Chelsea exit task

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Romelu Lukaku’s return to Inter Milan seems all but done, thus concluding arguably the worst transfer in Chelsea’s history. For a club that specialises in shooting itself in the foot, that is a bold claim, but few who watched Lukaku last season will disagree.

As former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said, there are lies, damned lies and statistics. Forget the fact that Lukaku was Chelsea’s top goal scorer with 15 goals in all competitions (8 in the Premier League). The truth is that for most of the season, he stunk the place out. Whichever way you look at it, £6.5 million per goal is a poor return.

His performances since the turn of the year were, frankly, dire. He never seemed to put much effort in bar pointing to various Chelsea players; he never seemed to be in the right place at the right time to put the ball in the net, and his touch was very poor for a supposedly world-class striker. For a big man, he often got bullied off the ball and his inability to jump and contest high balls was mystifying.

I am sure I am not alone among Chelsea supporters in saying how disappointed I am that Lukaku’s ‘second coming’ has been so awful. There will be some who will claim they knew all along that it wouldn’t work, but I am not so sure, and I certainly didn’t.

Back in August last year, I wrote an article on Lukaku’s return to Stamford Bridge, proclaiming it would be ‘unfinished business’. The evidence from his time in Italy indicated that Lukaku had matured into a fine, world-class striker. Since he left Chelsea in 2012, Lukaku had scored 218 goals in 395 games, better than 1 in 2.

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Sheridan Bird, a Milan-based football journalist, explained at the time: “Under Thomas Tuchel, if Chelsea wants to take advantage of counter-attacks, he is the man, and he has a variety of finishes as well. Teams in Serie A were terrified of him. Even if he didn’t score, he made space for others, or he tied up defenders; very few defenders got the better of him last year, and Serie A boasts the best organised and coached defences.”

“He faces the biggest challenge you could probably get at one of the biggest clubs in Europe, but he’s ready for it now. He’s mentally equipped to be the spearhead of the European champions. That’s how I see it. Those two years in Italy served him so well in terms of technique, pressure, media, and diplomacy to be an excellent spokesperson for the team. You know, I really think he’s ready. He’s ready to make a massive impact.”

It was hard to disagree with that analysis.

Lukaku’s start in his second stint at Chelsea indicated that it would be a success, with a well-taken goal away to Arsenal followed by two against Aston Villa in his home debut. So, where did it all go wrong?

Many would point to the interview Lukaku gave to Sky Italia in November, where he declared his undying love for the Inter, apologising for leaving the club and deflecting the blame away from himself and promising he’d return there in his prime, i.e. sooner rather than later. In one fell swoop, he betrayed his manager, Tuchel, his fellow players and critically, the Chelsea supporters.

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