Chelsea set for £40m Lukaku black hole as star sends Mourinho message | Football | Sport

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku is set to cost owner Todd Boehly £40million after telling Jose Mourinho he wants to reunite with him at AS Roma this summer. The Belgian is not part of Mauricio Pochettino’s plans at Stamford Bridge and the club have only entertained the idea of selling him this summer, but Lukaku’s desire to link up with his former boss Mourinho for a second time could scupper their plans to offload him.

The Blues are keen to recoup some of the £97.5million transfer fee that was spent on acquiring him from Inter Milan for a second spell in west London. But it simply hasn’t gone to plan, with Lukaku bagging only eight Premier League goals before returning to Italy on loan last season.

The 30-year-old has been up for sale since Inter abandoned plans to bring him back to the San Siro, having learned he was in talks with rivals Juventus, but Chelsea are yet to find a buyer in Europe willing to meet their demands.

The Sunday Mirror report Lukaku is currently in the Italian capital of Rome hoping to seal a loan move to the Stadio Olimpico, with the Giallorossi prepared to spend big in order to get Mourinho his man.

And they will be encouraged by the striker’s interest in linking up with the Rome outfit. He has informed Mourinho of his preference to join him at Roma, having played under the Portuguese tactician at Chelsea and Manchester United.

But Roma are only willing to sanction a loan deal, which could impact Todd Boehly’s plans to bring in a sizeable fee.

The American billionaire has already raked in £230m in player sales as well as removing a huge chunk from the wage budget. Lukaku’s £325,000-a-week wages would go some way to bringing it down even more, with Roma willing to cover the entirety of his wages.

Saudi Pro League clubs are interested in offering the Belgium international an eye-watering contract as well as paying the £40m fee, but Lukaku is not keen on a move to join the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Karim Benzema in the Middle East.

Al-Hilal submitted a £40m bid for his services but Lukaku has his sights set on returning to Italy. Boehly is hoping to include an obligation-to-buy clause in the deal during his negotiations, with Lukaku still having three years left on his contract.

After watching a swap deal with Juventus collapse, the west London club are acutely aware of their need to flog the unwanted striker before the transfer deadline on September 1.

Pochettino is yet to speak with Lukaku since he took over as Chelsea boss in July and has not considered him for selection after leaving the out-of-favour frontman at home for their pre-season tour of the USA. Lukaku was also left out of the 20-man squad for the 3-0 win over Luton.

Reports suggest Roma vice-president Ryan Freidkin was in attendance for Friday’s night game after discussing the move with Boehly over dinner in the club’s directors lounge.

And that is likely to work to Mourinho’s advantage in luring his top target to the Serie A, despite already having Tammy Abraham, Paulo Dybala and new striker Sarder Azmoun available as striking options.

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