Inter are insistent that Romelu Lukaku is not for sale
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Romelu Lukaku has jumped back to the top of Chelsea’s wanted list of strikers with Borussia Dortmund showing no sign of altering their not for sale stance on Erling Haaland.
As well as trying to negotiate a deal with Inter Milan, who have insisted Lukaku will not be sold, Chelsea are ready to make an official bid for Sevilla defender Jules Kounde if they first line up a deal to sell one of their central defenders with Kurt Zouma currently the most likely to depart.
Zouma is one of a host of players, including Tammy Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Marcos Alonso, who Chelsea are willing to listen to offers for over the final month of the summer transfer window.
Seville appear to be preparing for the potential departure of Kounde by renewing their interest in Tottenham Hotspur’s Davinson Sanchez while Zouma has also been linked with a move to Spain even though he would prefer to stay in the Premier League.
It has been a quiet summer so far for Chelsea, but head coach Thomas Tuchel is believed to be relaxed about the club’s transfer activity and has not used last season’s Champions League success as an attempt to leverage more power or transfer funds from the club.
Tuchel wants a new striker, but with Dortmund digging in their heels over Haaland for this summer, it seems that his hopes of bringing in a big-money number nine may rest on whether or not Inter will relent over Lukaku.
The situation could of course change if Dortmund suddenly show a willingness to negotiate over Haaland, but Chelsea are currently focussing their attention on Lukaku.
A deal for Erling Haaland is looking increasignly difficult
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Lukaku and Inter have both publicly declared that they expect the Belgian to be playing in Serie A this coming season, but that has not yet put off Chelsea who are well aware of the Italian club’s financial difficulties.
The good relations Chelsea share with Lukaku’s agent, Federico Pastorello, who attended the club’s Champions League final win against Manchester City, have also contributed to the belief that a deal is still worth pursuing.
Inter’s asking price for Lukaku is currently well above what Chelsea would be prepared to pay to take the 28-year-old back to Stamford Bridge, but there is still almost a month of the transfer window to run.
While Chelsea are thought to be the only club capable of persuading Lukaku to leave Inter, the former Manchester United striker will not push for a move.
He is being heavily involved in Inter’s plans for the new season as proven by the fact that on returning to Milan just over a week ago, he made a quick pit-stop at his apartment before heading straight to the training ground for talks with new head coach Filippo Inzaghi.
Inzaghi has been consulting with Lukaku over Inter’s transfer plans and his expectations for the new season, which has been welcomed by the player.
Nonetheless, Tuchel is a big fan of Lukaku and believes he could convince the striker to re-join Chelsea if the club can convince Inter to lower their demands.
Should Inter hold their ground, then Tuchel has not ruled out the prospect of starting the season with Kai Havertz, who scored against Arsenal in a pre-season friendly at the weekend, and Timo Werner as his first-choice strikers.
Kai Havertz scored for Chelsea in their friendly win at Arsenal
Abraham also netted against Arsenal, but the expectation remains that he will leave Chelsea before the end of the summer window. Arsenal are interested in signing him, while Chelsea are braced for a bid from Aston Villa should Jack Grealish complete a £100million move to Manchester City.
Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek were involved against Arsenal, but both players still face uncertain futures this month with Chelsea likely to listen to offers for either man.
Bayern Munich have tried to sign Hudson-Odoi on multiple occasions in the past and his £120,000-a-week wages mean that there are only a handful of clubs who could afford to make a meaningful offer for the 20-year-old.
Loftus-Cheek spent last season on loan at Fulham and ideally wants to stay at Chelsea this term, but a move, either permanently or on another loan, currently looks more likely.
Alonso, Ross Barkley, Davide Zappacosta, Michy Batshuayi, Kenedy, Danny Drinkwater, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Baba Rahman are, among others, players Chelsea are willing to sell or loan out this month.