Who could replace Lukaku at Chelsea?
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Chelsea will be reflecting on their decision to sign Romelu Lukaku with some regret, not just because of the fee they paid but also due to what they threw away when capturing the Belgian striker. The Blues paid a club-record £97.5million fee to re-sign Lukaku from Inter Milan in 2021, some seven years after selling him to Everton, only to loan him back to the Serie A club less than a year later.
With their transfer budget reduced due to Roman Abramovich’s waning financial support, transfer chief Marina Granovskaia offloaded several of the club’s young prospects. And that could prove to be a costly mistake for which Todd Boehly must pay the price for as he targets more signings.
Granovskaia sold Tammy Abraham to Roma for £34m, Fikayo Tomori headed to AC Milan after a successful loan spell and Tino Livramento joined Southampton for £5m, with Kurt Zouma’s £30m move to West Ham adding up the rest.
Ike Ugbo, Lewis Bate and Dynel Simeu also headed for the exit for lower fees. And the total amount brought in essentially paid the entirety of Lukaku’s fee overall, ignoring player amortisation costs, which at the time appeared to be fine business as it generated a zero net spend.
However, the 30-year-old lasted just 10 months after failing to impress on return to Stamford Bridge and headed back to Milan on a two-year loan with Inter in June this year, underlining a huge error in judgement from the club’s previous hierarchy in pushing through the deal.
As part of the deal to sell Livramento 18 months ago, the west London outfit retain the option to buy the youngster back from Southampton for £25m due to a release clause inserted into his contract when selling him to the South Coast outfit.
And reports suggest American owner Boehly is ready to make amends for Granovskaia’s oversight in allowing their former Youth Player of the Year to leave for a fraction of the price.
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According to Football FanCast, Chelsea are keen to strengthen their options at wing-back, with the report suggesting the Blues ‘have been keeping tabs’ on Livramento as they want to sign cover for Reece James.
Potter has trialled several different options in the position since James was ruled out of action with a knee injury, but the position remains a problem area. Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been shifted out to the right flank in recent games, with Cesar Azpilicueta, Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic also deputising, but none of the trio are anywhere near as effective.
Livramento has been sidelined since May after suffering an injury to his anterior cruciate ligament, ruling him out until next year at least. Before then, the teenager had shown his potential with some stellar displays, becoming first-choice ahead of Kyle Walker-Peters.
There will be understandable doubts raised as to whether Livramento will make a full recovery from such a serious injury. And with the full-back not yet back in training, a move is not expected to materialise until the summer of 2023 at the earliest.
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