The Blues must have frank discussions with their record signing, before making a second move.
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Romelu Lukaku of Belgium looks dejected during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group F match between Croatia and Belgium at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium on December 1, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Getty Images)

In 2023 Chelsea F.C. will need to perform at their peak when it comes to contract talks because the new owners will have a massive amount of work on their hands. In preparation for continuing the squad rebuild that began in the summer, Graham Potter and his new recruitment staff anticipate being quite busy in January.

Before focusing on strengthening and letting go of underperforming players, the Blues have contract concerns and roster gaps to fill. However, they might not have anticipated Romelu Lukaku‘s comeback. The Belgian player, who is presently on loan at Inter Milan but is still Chelsea’s property, must resolve a complicated position.

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He failed to live up to expectations after being bought last summer for a club record £97.5 million and contributed to a changing room that was becoming more and more fractious. His controversial interview all but ruined his career at the club, although it’s difficult to offload a significant asset after only tallying 15 goals across all competitions.

Todd Boehly and Co had it slightly easier than Roman Abramovich in the sense that he was not their mistake so moving him on, even on loan, didn’t look as bad on the regime, but it still taints the club. Now, with a little over six months to go on his deal in Italy, and just 249 minutes of league action played, a tough set of circumstances exist.

Due to new FIFA regulations that prohibit multi-season contracts, Inter Milan only has him for this season despite paying a small loan fee. According to the law, “the period of a Temporary Transfer shall not extend beyond 30 June next after it was entered into,” the minimum duration of a temporary transfer is the time between two consecutive transfer windows. It indicates that Lukaku will once again play for Chelsea at the conclusion of the Serie A season.

Thomas Tuchel signed Lukaku, and Tuchel allowed him to leave while he was in charge; Graham Potter never managed him. If the current situation continues, he may not have the opportunity to impact Lukaku’s future.

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Retaining Lukaku may not be as simple a deal as it first appears due to Inter’s severe financial situation, and given his performance and fitness, persuading the reigning champions to commit to another season on the same conditions may prove difficult.

According to the Italian newspaper Tuttosport, Inter presently pays about 60% of his salary on top of a £5 million loan charge, totaling over £15 million when bonuses are added. Even though there is a broad understanding among the teams that he will be returning, negotiations for a new contract will need to start from scratch because no terms have been agreed upon for the upcoming season.

Everything adds to what already appears to be a very difficult summer at Stamford Bridge, providing a significant and unwanted backdrop.


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