Premier League • England

Chelsea reach Lukaku decision with new transfer plans afoot, as Fabrizio Romano names defender who could leave in January

Chelsea loanee Romelu Lukaku at Inter Milan

Chelsea will not cut short the loan spell of Romelu Lukaku at Inter Milan, with Fabrizio Romano revealing discussions have taken place over a new plan.

Lukaku, 29, became Chelsea’s club-record signing upon arriving from Inter Milan in 2021. The Belgium international cost the Blues a hefty £97.5m, though after a bulldozing start against Arsenal and Ben White, failed to meet expectations.

He finished last season with 15 goals in 44 matches. A ratio of around one in three is far from a disaster, though is not the level of output expected from such costly signings.

What’s more, Lukaku fell foul of then-manager Thomas Tuchel. He spoke out against the German’s utilisation of him in the Italian media and his form nosedived upon being brought back in from the cold.

That led to a loan return to Inter Milan being sanctioned over the summer. The move was signed off by former director Marina Granovskaia who is one of several influential figures behind the scenes to be turfed out by the new ownership.

That led to speculation Lukaku’s loan could be cut short given Chelsea’s struggles in the final third.

However, according to Romano, Chelsea have no plans to bring him back in January. Instead, the transfer guru revealed discussions have already taken place over extending the loan spell by a further 12 months.

Chelsea, Inter “verbally discuss” new Lukaku terms

“Inter and Chelsea have an agreement on a one-year loan with no buy option included,” Romano said on his YouTube channel.

“But they already discussed for a potential second year of loan. It’ll depend on many factors, but they already verbally discussed the possibility of a second year.

“Let’s see what happens, but for now there are no plans to bring Romelu Lukaku back off loan.”

The Blues did receive a handy £6.9m loan fee from Inter and there is scope for that figure to rise if they win Serie A.

While not stated by Romano, it stands to reason a similar arrangement would be made if Lukaku’s loan is extended.

Lukaku’s contract doesn’t expire until 2026, meaning Chelsea are under no pressure to cut ties permanently just yet.

Defender exit in January?

Romano also shed light on one player who could leave in January – Trevoh Chalobah.

The centre-half, 23, enjoyed a breakthrough campaign last year, racking up 30 appearances across all competitions.

However, Chalobah harbours ambitions of becoming not only a regular starter, but an integral piece of the Chelsea backline.

The outlook on that ambition looked bleak in the summer, prompting loan interest from both Milan clubs and RB Leipzig.

Chalobah was ultimately retained, though has just one appearance to his name this season. Clearly, something has to give if he is to realise his ambitions and drop the moniker of being a squad player.

Stressing Chalobah could leave in the next window, Romano added: “During the summer [he] wanted a move. He wanted a move on loan just to play, he wants to play.

“He wants to be a regular starter and have good gametime. He’s a young and talented player and wants to find some space to show and improve his skills.

“But at the end, despite negotiating with Inter Milan, AC Milan and RB Leipzig [and] despite signing Wesley Fofana Chelsea decided to keep Chalobah.

“They were waiting for the Fofana deal before giving Chalobah the green light, but they decided to keep him.”

All options open

Romano added: “At the moment he’s not finding any space at Chelsea – this is an important point.

“He wants to not only be a starter but an important player for Chelsea.

“I’m told there are already some conversations around with clubs still interested in Chalobah. There is a chance for him to leave the club in January.

Romano then suggested all options are open at present, such as a straight loan, a loan with an option to buy, or a sale with a buyback option.

“At the moment, nothing is advanced,” concluded Romano. “But at the moment there is a serious possibility for Chalobah to leave if the situation (over his minutes) continues.”