Lukaku returning to Chelsea 'to prove people wrong'
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This summer, Chelsea are rectifying the mistake they made by missing out on Romelu Lukaku in 2017 when Antonio Conte was in charge. Lukaku will complete a £97.5million return this week as the club reward Thomas Tuchel for guiding them to a second Champions League last season.
After leaving his post as Italy manager in 2016, Conte guided Chelsea to Premier League success in his first season at the helm.
He then lifted the FA Cup in his second before being replaced by Maurizio Sarri after a disappointing fifth-place league finish in the same campaign.
Things could’ve been different, though, if the Blues captured his primary transfer targets after he helped them to their sixth top-flight title.
In 2020, Conte revealed that he told Chelsea to sign Virgil van Dijk and Lukaku during his tenure.
However, the club failed to acquire either as Van Dijk joined Liverpool from Southampton and Lukaku left Everton for Manchester United in 2017.
He told The Telegraph: “I asked for two players, and we were very, very close after we won the league.
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“One player was Romelu Lukaku, the second player was Virgil van Dijk, and these two players were very, very close.
“We were in contact every day, and I always said that with these two players, we would improve my team by 30 per cent.
“I think maybe we lost the momentum to bring Chelsea at the very top and then to stay for many years.
“It was a pity that it didn’t happen and Romelu is showing with Inter that my idea was right and also Van Dijk has shown with Liverpool that my idea was right for the club.”
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With Tuchel now set to receive Lukaku in a club-record deal, Chelsea are showing signs of learning from their mistakes.
They are building on their success in Europe in an attempt to remain at the top of the tree by acquiring one of the continent’s most prolific goalscorers.
After Conte won the league at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea brought in Alvaro Morata after Lukaku became unattainable but never settled in England.
It’ll likely be a different story with the big Belgian, though, as the Blues seek a seventh title under Tuchel’s watch.
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Ahead of Chelsea’s UEFA Super Cup match against Villarreal on Wednesday, Tuchel addressed Lukaku’s potential arrival.
“I’m absolutely not in the position to announce anything, and I will maybe refuse to talk about it as we are in a matchday mind,” Tuchel explained.
“We have a very clear structure in the club. Marina, the owner, everybody has ideas. It is very calm.
“We always try to improve, but at the same time, we believe in the development of our players.
“We have a lot of young players up front like Ziyech, Havertz, Werner in their second season, and I am sure the experience of last season will give them a huge boost.”
And Conte is likely to be jealous of Tuchel having Lukaku on board, given it could allow the current Chelsea boss to do what he didn’t by going on to multiple major honours at the club.
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