Chelsea re-signed Romelu Lukaku for a club-record £97.5million this summer, but it has since emerged they weren’t the only side keen on bringing the Belgian back to the Premier League
The Belgian secured a dream move back to Stamford Bridge after the Blues paid a club-record £97.5million to Inter Milan for his services.
Lukaku played a handful of times during his first stint at the club after signing in 2011 when he was a teenager, before loan spells at West Brom and Everton led to a permanent move to the latter.
Since then, Belgium’s all-time record goalscorer has gone on to establish himself as one of the hottest strikers in Europe, prompting Chelsea to splash the cash in order to resign him this summer.
However, it has since emerged that the Blues weren’t the only Premier League side interested in bringing Lukaku back to England.
According to his agent Federico Pastorello, title rivals City tried to lure Lukaku to the Etihad last year.
“During the pandemic, it was very complicated because of trying to fly to places to meet people. It started very concrete and very serious, but eventually they changed their idea or they were not ready to make it happen.
“Honestly, it was very difficult after the first year – it was almost impossible. He hadn’t won the league with Inter and he wanted to do that, and it would have been really impossible. Then they [City] focussed on Harry Kane this summer.”
Despite interest from Pep Guardiola’s side, Pastorello admitted Lukaku had his heart set on two other clubs, with Chelsea his preferred destination if he decided to leave Inter
“Romelu was incredibly happy in Milan, he loves the supporters, he loves the city, he loves the club,” he added.
“But, on the other side, he was always dreaming of coming back to Chelsea.
“I knew this in 2017, he said there were two clubs that were his dream – Chelsea and Real Madrid, and Chelsea was even more because he had been sold much too early and not in a very nice way after the penalty in the Super Cup, so he felt there was something he had not achieved and he wanted to put it right.”
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Lukaku hit the ground running after sealing his return, scoring four goals in his opening four games, including a strike against London rivals Arsenal in his first outing since re-joining the club.
The 28-year-old has seen his form dry up since, going six matches without a goal before a recent ankle injury against Malmo in the Champions League brought a temporary halt to his season.
Though Lukaku was keen to return to Stamford Bridge, Pastorello admitted he had to convince his client that a Blues return this summer was a one-time offer following five Chelsea bids for him.
“This is what I was telling Romelu, that it could be now or never, because probably he was not realising it 100 per cent at first,” Pastorello said.
“I had to tell him to remember that sometimes there are trains and when they pass, they don’t come back. Because of the situation, because of the market and because there were not many possibilities, this was Romelu’s train.
“We had the opportunity to be in the right place at the right moment and I told him that if he wanted to come back, he needed to take it now.
“Chelsea were 100 per cent sure that he was the one, I never had doubts, but I think they needed to think twice before doing it.
“There were more offers before they got to the level Inter accepted. There were four offers and the fifth was the one that closed the talks.
“Looking back, I think everyone got a really good deal.”