Chelsea missing out on the expected capture of Romelu Lukaku appears to have thrown the club into crisis after Manchester United’s dramatic swoop for the striker has brought yet more rumours that manager Antonio Conte remains deeply frustrated by a string of transfer blows.
Chelsea had been expected to land Lukaku for weeks, but the Daily Mirror described as Conte as ‘fuming’ when it became apparent that they would lose out to a direct rival.
It is said that Chelsea officials spent Thursday trying to establish if there was any way they could still bring Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge, but any chance of that happening seems to have all but disappeared after rumours that the player was set for a United medical in LA on Thursday.
Despite a previous understanding that Conte’s preference was for other strikers and that Lukaku was the choice of technical director Michael Emenalo rather than the manager, the Mirror report explains that the Italian was actually ‘desperate to get’ the 24-year-old.
He was apparently in ‘regular contact’ with Lukaku and is said to have been planning for life next season with the powerhouse striker in the Chelsea squad.
From the highs of claiming the Premier League title in spectacular fashion in May, Chelsea’s summer has quickly become disastrous. No progress has been made in trying to prise Virgil van Dijk away from Southampton, while a deal for Juventus wing-back Alex Sandro is proving to be more challenging than first thought after the Brazilian was offered a new contract in Turin.
The seemingly ‘done deal’ for Tiemoue Bakayoko has stalled at the 11th hour as well, with no formal confirmation yet materialising despite being expected last weekend.
With Diego Costa set to leave on the (relative) cheap for Atletico Madrid, despite the club’s transfer ban, a new striker is now arguably Chelsea’s most pressing concern.
A possible pursuit of Alvaro Morata may yet serve to soften the blow of losing Lukaku and calm an increasingly annoyed Conte. The Real Madrid front-man was on the brink of leaving the Bernabeu for Manchester until United dramatically pulled the plug on the deal.
Chelsea, and Conte in particular, were thought to be keen on the Spaniard before getting serious with Lukaku and resurrecting such interest makes a lot of sense. He has a previous connection with the Chelsea boss after signing for Juventus when Conte was in charge in Turin.
A possible deal for Torino’s Andrea Belotti remains the only other semi-realistic option.