Chelsea

Romelu Lukaku was always doomed to fail at negligent Chelsea

Will Ford
Lukaku has been failed by Chelsea
Lukaku has been failed by Chelsea / Craig Mercer - GettyImages
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90min understands that Romelu Lukaku is set to leave the club this summer, presumably for significantly less than they paid for him, after one turbulent waste of a season.

Paris Saint-Germain and Inter are both interested and Chelsea are set to jump at the chance to see the back of him.

That in itself is incredible – a football club can't wait to be rid of a player they were desperate enough to spend £97.5m on just 12 months after signing him. But this is Chelsea.

Beyond the trophies and success, the defining takeaway from Roman Abramovich's time at Stamford Bridge has been throwing money at problems without any real forethought. The outlay has been particularly negligent when it comes to strikers.

Chelsea have spent nearly £450m on 13 centre-forwards since Didier Drogba and only Nicolas Anelka and Diego Costa have been unarguable successes.

Lukaku, given how much he cost and what he's produced this season, has probably been the worst of all. Five Premier League goals, a handful of touches per appearance and an interview slating the style of his manager, to say it's not worked out would be an understatement. However, Chelsea should have seen it coming.

The club was hell-bent on signing a big-name striker last summer. Lukaku was seen as the last piece of the puzzle for a profligate team. Very simply, far too simply, Chelsea bought a goalscorer to convert the many chances they were creating. Lukaku scored a bundle of goals for Inter Milan; ipso facto he would score a bundle of goals for Chelsea.

But Thomas Tuchel had a good thing going at the end of last season. Kai Havertz was fluorishing as a No.9 and there was a distinct style of football that saw the forwards interchanging positions and running beyond Havertz into space.

The arrival of Lukaku was always going to change that. He would be the focal point, very much the furthest player forward, the 'big man up top' to put it plainly.

And that would be a problem, not only for Chelsea, who hadn't played that way under Tuchel, but also for Lukaku, who's at his best running into the channels occupied by the wide, roaming forwards. Chelsea's style didn't suit Lukaku and Lukaku's style didn't suit Chelsea.


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Either Tuchel had to change, which he was understandably unwilling to do, given he had just won the Champions League, or Lukaku would have to adapt to playing a loan role having thrived as one of a pair alongside Lautaro Martinez at Inter. As it turns out, neither were willing to bend and here we are. The final piece of the puzzle turned out to be the 1001st.

Chelsea haven't learned from their transfer mistakes in the past, but can't afford – quite literally – to continue making those same mistakes. The new owners, whoever they are, will not have endless supplies of money to fritter away, particulalry with the priority likely to be the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge. They've got to be smarter.

And they're lucky that after 14 managers in two decades they've landed on one in Tuchel that is a viable candidate to be their legacy boss.

Marina Granovskaia and Petr Cech were presumably front and centre in the deal to get Lukaku back to the club, but it's hard to imagine Tuchel having a big say in that transfer. We've all been consulted by, or ourselves consulted, a partner or family member about a purchase when said bluetooth speaker or other unnecessary item is aready on its way from Amazon. It's a mere courtesy – this is happening.

Tuchel is clearly a brilliant tactician with an excellent grasp of the players he likes, doesn't like, and therefore should be the person leading the charge for new recruits. Future acquisitions may not work out for a number of reasons, but Lukaku must be the last player Chelsea sign that was doomed to fail.

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