Serie A has missed them, but perhaps, Pogba and Lukaku missed Italy even more. The Frenchman is close to returning to Juventus and this week could be the decisive one for the Old Lady to reach an agreement with the midfielder’s entourage over his second spell in Turin.
Pogba left the Allianz Stadium in 2016, returning to Manchester United for €100m. His second spell at Old Trafford wasn’t as good as he had planned as the Frenchman was often inconsistent and scored 39 goals in 229 games in England, just five more than those he had netted during his previous four years at Juventus (34 in 178 games).
This stat alone explains why Pogba has missed Juventus and Turin, but there is even more behind it. Pogba never felt love from Manchester United fans, or, at least, he didn’t feel the same as in Turin. He’s always remained in touch with many of his former Juventus teammates, most of whom are no longer at Juventus. He still has many friends in town. He has a strong bond with Max Allegri, who also returned for a second spell with the Old Lady a year ago.
Pogba earned more money at Manchester United than at Juventus, but money isn’t always all that matters. He has missed Juventus and Turin and even if the Serie A giants don’t have the same financial resources as other top European clubs such as PSG or Real Madrid, Pogba is determined to return to the place where he’s spent the best years of his professional career so far.
The same goes for Lukaku, who had two impressive seasons at Inter, where he scored 64 goals in 95 appearances with the Nerazzurri, becoming Serie A champion in 2020-21. Yet again, his return to Chelsea (third spell) was highly disappointing.
The Belgium international failed to justify his €113m price tag by scoring just 15 goals in 44 appearances in 2021-22. He has become a mere reserve from the second part of the campaign and his rapport with Thomas Tuchel has collapsed.
Lukaku took shorter than Pogba to realise that Chelsea wasn’t the right environment for him and that, perhaps, he shouldn’t have left Serie A. Back in December, he released an interview with Sky Sport Italia, apologising to Inter fans for the way he had gone over the summer, adding that he wanted to return sooner or later.
It was the beginning of the end for him at Stamford Bridge, where most Chelsea fans have never forgiven him, despite his apologies. According to multiple reports in Italy, ‘Big Rom’ is now pushing for a return to the Stadio Meazza and is ready to take a 50% pay cut to fulfil his desire.
However, the Nerazzurri can only afford the reunion on loan until June 2023, so negotiations with the Blues will probably be quite lengthy. Inter would prefer to close the deal by the end of the month, to be able to use the growth decree and get a 50% pay cut on the player’s gross salary, but probably it will take longer than that.
Surely, both Pogba and Lukaku have learned that leaving Serie A isn’t always a good idea despite it no longer being the richest league in Europe. They spent the best years of their careers in Italy, and now they are desperate to return. They can be richer in the Belpaese, although in a different way.