Premier League • England

Inter chief makes ‘difficult’ assessment over Romelu Lukaku, as Graham Potter gets Chelsea ball rolling

Romelu Lukaku, August 2022

Inter chief Giuseppe Marotta has admitted that the future for Romelu Lukaku remains unclear following the arrival of Graham Potter at Chelsea.

The striker returned to the Serie A club on loan this summer after just the one season back at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea had high hopes for Lukaku and in fact made him their club-record signing.

However, he struggled to get on with former Blues boss Thomas Tuchel last term. Indeed, he complained last December that Tuchel’s tactics were denying him meaningful opportunities.

Chelsea and Lukaku subsequently parted ways for a second time. Tuchel brought in his former Borussia Dortmund ally Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but now Tuchel has gone too.

After getting the sack earlier this week, Chelsea have installed ex-Brighton man Potter as their new coach on a five-year deal.

Lukaku’s future is just one of several loose ends to be sorted out at Chelsea. And Inter CEO Marotta, as well as the striker, have not had time to reflect on the change’s impact for Lukaku.

“It’s fresh news. I don’t know what the effects of the change of coach will be,” Marotta told Sky Italy.

“We want to get the best performance out of Lukaku, and then at the end of the season we will sit down and talk about him with Chelsea.

“I don’t know if a change of coach means that his return is automatic, it’s difficult to predict today.”

Lukaku struggling upon Inter return

Lukaku once again made an instant impression upon his summer move back to Inter.

The 29-year-old scored in the opening Serie A game of the season – a 2-1 win over Lecce – before grabbing an assist in a 3-0 win over Spezia.

But, he suffered a thigh injury in training at the end of August and has missed Inter’s last two league games. Lukaku was also a big miss as Inter lost their opening Champions League group stage match 2-0 to Bayern Munich.

Inter are reportedly gearing up to welcome the marksman back for a clash with Roma on October 1.

That means he will miss matches against Torino, Viktoria Plzen and Udinese.

Chelsea situation needs to settle

It feels like Chelsea have been going at 100mph since Todd Boehly took over as the new owner. A busy end to the transfer window and a mixed start to the season have proved key factors.

Indeed, defeats to Leeds United and Southampton earlier this season only raised the fears for Tuchel’s future.

But, Boehly clearly felt more upheaval and uncertainty was needed, with Tuchel not convincing him of his ability to turn the club’s situation around.

Potter, meanwhile, has brought something of a tranquility to Brighton, keeping a lid on their impressive rise.

Last season, their ninth-placed Premier League finish under him was a sign of where the project could go.

At Chelsea, he faces something of a whirlwind introduction, working with owners who have already proved their ruthless streak.

What the Blues need now under Potter, though, is a period of stability and good results to get their campaign back on track.

Potter faces a crunch opening spell in charge. Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United are all coming up in the fixture list.

There is also the need to get Chelsea’s Champions League campaign back on track. That is no small matter, considering Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb cost Tuchel his job.