Romelu to Roma! Lukaku Signs for Italian Outfit
Romelu Lukaku has completed a move from Chelsea to AS Roma on a season-long loan.
The deal will see the Italian side pay a fee of between £7 million – £8 million to the West-London club for the 30-year-old striker.
The loan transfer caps off a dramatic window-long saga. Lukaku joins having also received interest from Saudi Arabia and fellow Italian sides, Juventus and Internazionale.
At the start of the window, a third spell with Inter seemed the most likely outcome. However, last season Lukaku had become disenchanted with the club.
He spent the first half of last season in Milan injured, then resented being kept out of the squad by strike partner Edin Dzeko. Coupled with the fact that Lautaro Martínez is undoubtedly main-man and captain, Lukaku did not want to end up playing second fiddle.
Juventus were unable to agree a fee with Chelsea, and a deal was complicated by the Juve supporters’ obvious dislike for the Belgian striker. Following a pre-season friendly last month, Bianconeri fans stormed the Allianz Stadium pitch chanting ‘noi Lukaku non lo vogliamo’, which translates as ‘We don’t want Lukaku’.
That fact that Lukaku felt he was not yet ready to leave European football for the Middle East, meant that Roma was the most suitable option remaining.
There’s no place like Rome.
Lukaku wants a tactical system built to suit his strengths. At Chelsea he criticised Thomas Tuchel’s system, claiming the manager was unable to get the best out of him.
Having scored 27 goals in his first season with José Mourinho at Manchester United, it is likely this relationship will be more stable.
He is also someone who needs to feel love from the fans to feel he can play his best. Amongst Romans it is clear he will receive universal support.
When Lukaku flew into the Italian capital on Tuesday, he was greeted at the airport by 5,000 fans. Coupled with this, 16,000 were tracking his journey on the flightradar24.com. The flight was piloted by Roma’s billionaire President Dan Friedkin, clearly intent on adding a personal touch.
It is unclear whether the club will organise an unveiling similar to Paulo Dybala’s last year, when 10,000 Roma fans greeted an awe-struck Dybala at the Colosseo Quadrato (Square Colosseum). Regardless, Lukaku has usurped the Argentine as the club’s highest earner. Perhaps this indicates the importance he will hold in the squad.
While Roma have been active in the window, Financial Fair Play issues have left their spending limited.
Leandro Paredes has been their only permanent signing bought for a fee. Houssem Aouar and Evan Ndicka have also been signed permanently on free transfers. Lukaku, Rasmus Kristensen, Sardar Azmoun and Renato Sanches have all been brought in on loan deals.
With Roma so far, impressively, Mourinho has won the Europa Conference League and reached the final of the Europa League. However, in Serie A it has been underwhelming, with 6th placed finishes in successive seasons.
Mourinho now enters the final year of his contract, and is showing few signs that he intends to extend his stay. In a league as volatile as Serie A, with four different winners in as many years, could Lukaku propel them up the table?