Premier League • England

Chelsea complete striker transfer, but Lukaku deal implodes after Inter make mockery of negotiations

Romelu Lukaku during a Chelsea match

Union Berlin have announced the capture of Chelsea striker David Datro Fofana, though a Romelu Lukaku return to Inter Milan is on thin ice, per a report.

Fofana, 20, formed part of Chelsea’s drive to sign some of the most promising young talent in world football once Todd Boehly and his Clearlake partners took charge.

The Ivory Coast international joined from Norwegian side Molde in the last January window. He was retained at Stamford Bridge for the second half of the season, though featured just four times.

With Nicolas Jackson arriving from Villarreal and a second new striker wanted, Chelsea have decided to loan Fofana out to ensure his development isn’t stunted.

Fabrizio Romano reported a straight loan to Bundesliga side Union Berlin with no option to buy was in the works. Fofana passed a medical on Monday and Union have now announced the move has gone through.

A club statement began: ‘FC Union Berlin have signed David Datro Fofana from Chelsea FC for the 2023/24 season. The Ivorian will join the team on loan for one year.’

But while it’s been smooth sailing for Union and Fofana, it’s anything but regarding Lukaku and Inter.

Chelsea think Inter are playing games

The Serie A giant are determined to bring Lukaku back on board, though initially preferred a second loan spell.

Chelsea have made it clear they want a permanent exit and per Sky Sports, are demanding at least £40m.

Lukaku has been linked with moving to the burgeoning Saudi Pro League. However, Fabrizio Romano reiterated the Belgian wishes to remain in Europe.

As such, Inter appear the best bet on paper given their interest and the fact Lukaku would love to return to the Nerrazzuri.

However, per updates from Sky Sports and The Times, Inter are testing Chelsea’s patience which is close to breaking point.

Sky state there is a ‘significant difference’ in Chelsea and Inter’s valuation of Lukaku. Inter are hoping to put together a package that totals just £35m.

Given Chelsea want a minimum of £40m, Inter’s bid – if indeed it does eventually arrive – ‘is likely to fall short’.

The Times add their take, claiming that not only is Inter’s looming bid not enough, but Chelsea don’t regard Inter’s current negotiations as ‘serious’.

Reading between the lines, Chelsea believe negotiations with Inter could drag on and may not result in an agreement when all is said and done anyway.

Juventus have been linked and would provide a viable trading partner for the Blues. However, it’s understood their ability to fully pursue a move hinges on selling Dusan Vlahovic first. What’s more, Lukaku is known to favour Inter anyway.

For the time being at least, securing a permanent exit for Romelu Lukaku is proving frustratingly difficult for Chelsea.

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