Romelu Lukaku has often flattered to deceive in his first season back at Chelsea. The Belgian striker’s arrival from Inter Milan was heralded as the final piece of the jigsaw that would allow the Blues to challenge for the Premier League title, however, that simply hasn’t proved to be the case.
The 29-year-old plundered 30 goals in 44 appearances in the previous campaign to fire Inter to their first Serie A title in a decade. His scintillating form persuaded the Blues to part with a club record £97.5million to acquire his services; in the hope he would have a similar impact in west London. However, Lukaku only managed 15 goals in 44 appearances in the 2021/21 campaign.
The Belgian international’s lack of form led to him being dropped from Thomas Tuchel’s starting line-up and replaced by Kai Havertz for much of the second half of the season. And his lack of game time led to speculation that his second spell at Stamford Bridge could come to an end in the summer transfer window.
Lukaku has been linked with a move back to Italy, with reports suggesting any deal would be a loan move. However, Tuchel has perhaps already indicated that he expects the former Inter striker to still be at the club next season.
Speaking prior to the Blues’ 2-2 draw with Wolves in May, he said: “I want him [Lukaku] to be an important part of the squad. Right now, he is a very important part of the squad next season.
“If the situation changes, we need anyway to adapt all the time to contractual situations, individual situations of the players, what we want and think, and what the development will be. We signed a big player, and he is still a big player.”
Lukaku is under contract at Chelsea until the summer of 2026, meaning that the club are in a strong position should they decide to sell. What the future holds for the Belgian is currently unknown.