The Belgium international failed to justify his price tag at Stamford Bridge, scoring just 15 goals in 44 appearances under Thomas Tuchel in 2021-22 and has been pushing to return to Inter for several months.
In the end, the Nerazzurri managed to reunite with ‘Big Rom’ for a reduced fee as they will pay just €8m plus add-ons to get the player on loan until 2023. On paper, the Nerazzurri have cashed in more than €100m to part ways with Lukaku for just one season, but not all that glitters is gold.
Everyone still expects him to have an immediate impact: Simone Inzaghi is looking forward to working with the striker after training him for barely a week a year ago and has told some of his closest friends that Lukaku is the best forward he’s ever coached in his career. However, this is not the same Inter Lukaku left. The tactical environment has changed, he will be there on loan and not on a permanent deal and his uncertain future could somehow affect him and ironically, even if Big Rom does well, Inter could have some concerns.
The Nerazzurri and Chelsea have yet to confirm the financial details of the operation, but Lukaku is expected to return to the Stadio Meazza on a dry loan deal, without an option to buy for the Serie A giants. So, if the 29-year-old returns to his best form in the black and blue half of Milan, Chelsea can get him back the following season, given that his contract at Stamford Bridge runs out in June 2026.
The striker was not on good terms with Thomas Tuchel and may push to remain at Inter permanently if the German tactician sees out his contract until 2024. Another scenario could see Lukaku fulfil expectations, increase his transfer value and leave for another club, which is not Inter or Chelsea. A lot can happen in one year and both Tuchel and Lukaku know it well.
Beppe Marotta has pulled off an incredible deal in the short term because Lukaku will return to the club following a huge sale and a consequent minimum investment to get him back. On the other hand, the striker’s loan won’t solve Inter’s issues in attack in the long run. Lautaro is a world-class striker, but Joaquin Correa has been too inconsistent in his first season at the Stadio Meazza, while Edin Dzeko will turn 37 next year and Alexis Sanchez is expected to leave in the summer.
Simone Inzaghi won’t lack options in attack in 2022-23, but Lukaku’s loan doesn’t ensure a bright future for the Nerazzurri because, in one year, Inter may need to find a new centre-forward again. For now, also considering their poor finances, Rom’s temporary return is the best deal Inter could afford, so most of their fans are rightly cheerful about his signing.
Everyone is seeing the pros of the deal at the moment because Big Rom left a year ago for €113m and is returning now for less than €10m. Inter will also be able to use the growth decree and get a 50% cut on the player’s gross salary, given that Lukaku left Italy in August 2021, so less than a year ago. However, there could be some hidden cons that are not visible now but could emerge next season, whether or not Lukaku returns to greatness.