Another day, another club reportedly chasing Romelu Lukakau. This time it’s Italian champions Juventus who apparently fancy the big Belgian striker. But there’s growing doubt about whether Chelsea are prepared to let him go – unless they receive a very big transfer fee in return.
In the last few weeks, his reported value seems to have shot up from around £20million to £32million, if you believe today’s newspapers. That’s what Chelsea are apparently asking for, and they have also reportedly slapped down attempts from Juve to take him on loan.
Whether Lukaku’s price tag will stay at this astronomical level if he puts in any more pedestrian performances like his one against Algeria in the World Cup is a moot point. What is striking is whether Chelsea value him so highly because they want him to stay – or whether it’s because there are so many clubs allegedly in the market for him that they think they can start an auction for him.
Lukaku has done very well over the last two seasons. He has scored 33 goals for West Bromwich Albion and Everton on loan, at the rate of about a goal every two games. That’s a decent ratio. But his performances have veered from brilliant to blundering, and when he’s played for Chelsea he has looked mediocre. That was borne out by his appearance on the world stage in Brazil. He seems to be an ersatz version of Didier Drogba – some way short of the talent of the Ivorian.
Whether that’s good enough for Chelsea is doubtful. It’s certainly not good enough to be the first-choice striker at the club, which seems to be the position Lukaku thinks he should hold. His public annoyance at the signing of Diego Costa certainly seems to be that of a man who feels he’s been robbed of his birthright.
The abundance of reports suggesting that Lukaku has asked for a move away from Chelsea point to this being more than a rumour. This is a man who does not react well to being told he’s not good enough. The joke yesterday was that, following his substitution against Algeria, he’d ask for a move away from Belgium.
It seems clear that Chelsea aren’t that keen on keeping him at Stamford Bridge. In which case, we must assume that they really do think they can get more than £30million from selling him. Everton and Spurs are both interested, but it’s doubtful that either can afford that sort of money. There are hints that Arsenal are sniffing around, and they do have the cash – but he seems an unlikely target for Arsene Wenger.
Further afield, it seems Atletico Madrid couldn’t be tempted into taking him as part of the Coasta deal, or even the Filipe Luis deal. Valencia have been mentioned as a possible destination, but again – £32 million would surely be asking too much. PSG are usually prepared to pay way over the odds, but they have enough strikers to be going on with. Which brings us back to Juventus. They do need a striker, and they do have cash – but even so, Chelsea will have to bring their asking price a little lower before the Turin club are going to play ball.