Romelu Lukaku would become Italian football’s biggest ever sale if he completes £98m move to Chelsea this summer… but who would the Inter Milan forward overtake as the priciest transfer away from Serie A?
- Romelu Lukaku is being chased by Chelsea in a £98m pursuit this summer
- Lukaku has just won the Serie A title with Inter Milan but Chelsea want him back
- The Belgian forward would become Italian football’s largest sale if he moves
- Sportsmail looks at who Lukaku would overtake as Italy’s priciest exports…
Transfer records continue to be broken despite the coronavirus pandemic affecting clubs’ finances ahead of the forthcoming season.
As Jack Grealish became the first £100million English player, Romelu Lukaku also looks set to become a record-breaker in Italy as a potential £98m move to Chelsea would make him the expensive sale in Serie A history.
Sportsmail revealed this week that the Belgian’s club, Inter Milan, are expecting an improved bid from Chelsea after the £88m-plus-Marcos Alonso offer was rebuffed by the west Londoners.
Romelu Lukaku is being chased by Chelsea and could move in a £110million transfer this year
Sportsmail looks at who Lukaku would overtake as Serie A’s most expensive sale ever
And if Lukaku makes the switch back to Stamford Bridge – seven years after leaving west London – we take a look at who he would be eclipsing as the most expensive player sold by Italian football…
PAUL POGBA – JUVENTUS TO MANCHESTER UNITED (2016) – £89M
The current record holder is Paul Pogba – a player that Lukaku knows well from his time at Manchester United.
The Red Devils lost the French midfielder to Juventus on a free transfer in 2012 and then splurged a then-world record fee for the midfielder just four years later.
The 28-year-old has enjoyed a topsy-turvy time at Old Trafford over the past five years, with his agent Mino Raiola hinting at a move away over the past few years and making critical comment of United’s sporting direction.
Paul Pogba is the priciest transfer away from Serie A when he rejoined Man United in 2016
Pogba (right) played alongside Lukaku (left) at Manchester United between 2017 and 2019
But Pogba has showed flashes of brilliance during his second United spell, helping the club to three trophies in his first season back in the Premier League and ended last season with six goals and nine assists in a injury-hit season.
Pogba has been strongly linked with a move away, once again, to PSG this summer but will not command the £95m price tag he did five years ago.
GONZALO HIGUAIN – NAPOLI TO JUVENTUS (2016) – £76M
Only one player on this list made a move between Italian clubs and that is striker Gonzalo Higuain, who stunned Italian football in 2016 by moving between rivals Napoli and Juventus.
Gonzalo Higuain was Napoli’s top scorer and talisman under manager Maurizio Sarri (right)
Five years ago, Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli were Juventus’ closest Serie A title challengers, partly due to Higuain’s 36 league goals during the 2015-16 season.
Clearly threatened by Higuain’s presence at one of their rivals, Max Allegri’s side went out and splashed the cash on the best player in the league that was not in their squad – thereby improving their goalscoring options and damaging Napoli’s.
What the Argentine simply did was carry his goalscoring record into his Turin career, scoring 55 goals in his first 105 Juventus games, guiding his new club to two more Scudetto titles.
Higuain broke Napoli hearts by signing for fierce title rivals Juventus for £76million in 2016
He was sent out on loan during the 2018-19 season to both AC Milan and Chelsea but then was reunited with Sarri for his fourth Juventus season where he won another Serie A title.
Napoli, meanwhile, managed to replace Higuain with Dries Mertens and Arkadiusz Milik stepping up in recent years to be their top goalscorers, but still stand a long way from challenging for the Serie A title.
ZINEDINE ZIDANE – JUVENTUS TO REAL MADRID (2001) – £46M
Zinedine Zidane was 29-years-old in 2001. He had one-year left on his contract. Surely Real Madrid did not need to break the bank for this transfer two decades ago?
No. This is Zinedine Zidane. A two-time winner of the Serie A Footballer of the Year that oozes class wherever he goes.
Zinedine Zidane won the Serie A Footballer of the Year Award twice at Juventus
The signing of the iconic French midfielder was a statement from Real, who were in the opening years of their Galacticos era where they splurged money on the best players on the planet for several transfer windows in the early 2000s.
Real broke the bank with a then-world record £46m fee for Zidane and paid a serious chunk of that back when he scored a wonder goal in the Champions League final victory over Bayer Leverkusen in 2002.
He spent five years in the Spanish capital before retiring from the game in 2006. A decade later, he was appointed Real head coach and guided the club to three more Champions League trophies.
Zidane moved to Real Madrid for £46m in 2001 and won the Champions League straight away
ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC – INTER TO BARCELONA (2009) – £57M
Another player that Lukaku knows well from his Manchester United days, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic was in an almost identical situation to the Belgian forward when he left Inter Milan in 2009.
The Swedish forward was Inter Milan’s top goalscorer when they won the 2009 Serie A title under Jose Mourinho, netting 25 times in the league to take his overall tally to 66 goals in 117 matches for the Nerazzurri.
That form alerted the form of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona, who splashed out around £57m for the Swedish forward while the Catalans moved Samuel Eto’o in the opposite direction.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (right) moved to Barcelona with Samuel Eto’o going the other way to Inter
The transfer worked perfectly to begin with, Ibrahimovic scored 11 goals in his first 14 Barcelona matches and was well on course to becoming the top striker in the world.
But his relationship with now-Manchester City coach Guardiola soon soured, with the Swedish forward not exactly admiring the Catalans coach’s methods despite winning the treble the year before he arrived.
Zlatan said: ‘Guardiola started his philosopher thing. I was barely listening. Why would I? It was advanced b******* about blood, sweat and tears, that kind of stuff.’
Ibrahimovic’s one season at the Camp Nou was marred by rows with Pep Guardiola (left)
Their relationship came to a head when Guardiola’s Barcelona lost to Mourinho’s Inter in the 2010 Champions League semi-final, which appeared to be the final straw.
The striker recalled: ‘Guardiola was staring at me and I lost it. I thought, “there is my enemy, scratching his bald head!”
‘I yelled: “You haven’t got any b****!’ and worse than that I added: “You can go to hell!” I completely lost it, and you might have expected Guardiola to say a few words in response, but he’s a spineless coward.’
Ibrahimovic and Guardiola only worked together for one season and it’s easy to see why.
KAKA – AC MILAN TO REAL MADRID (2009) – £56M
It’s fair to say Real Madrid were busy during the 2009 summer transfer window. Cristiano Ronaldo was snapped up from Manchester United for a world-record £80m, while Xabi Alonso and Karim Benzema were added in the same summer.
But another purchase Los Blancos made was the £56m coup of AC Milan attacking midfielder Kaka, who had recently won the Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup with the Rossoneri.
Kaka (middle) was the creative fulcrum in AC Milan’s side under Carlo Ancelotti (left)
The Brazilian midfielder (right) joined Real in the same summer as Cristiano Ronaldo (left)
The all-star side of 2009 was the closest Real have come to a Galacticos team since the days of Zidane but there was very little trophies to show for the quality they had, particularly in attack.
Kaka did not have a bad time at the Santiago Bernabeu, he just did not light up Spanish football in the same way he did in Italy. He played 120 times for Los Blancos, scoring 20 times and won the LaLiga title in his penultimate season in Spain.
ACHRAF HAKIMI – INTER MILAN TO PSG (2021) – £60M
Lukaku is not the only star player they are likely to lose in this summer’s transfer window. They already raised £60m for right-back Achraf Hakimi from PSG, showing how bad their financial issues are.
Hakimi was one of the most attack-minded defenders from last season, scoring seven goals and registering ten assists from a right wing-back role under the now-departed head coach Antonio Conte.
Achraf Hakimi has already swapped Inter for pastures new by joining PSG for £60m this year
The Moroccan defender has been on the scene for some time, having impressed after coming through the ranks at Real Madrid as a teenager four years ago.
Now the 22-year-old is chasing another league title – this time in France – and while Inter have a suitable back-up in Matteo Darmian at the San Siro, Hakimi will be a big loss for the Nerazzurri.
JOAO CANCELO – JUVENTUS TO MANCHESTER CITY (2019) – £60M
From one former Inter full-back to another, Manchester City snapped up Joao Cancelo after just one season at Juventus – and what a signing he has been.
The defender travelled all across Europe during the early days of his career, from Benfica to Valencia to Inter and then finally the Turin club – before Guardiola brought him to the Premier League for £60m.
Joao Cancelo spent one season at Juventus before Manchester City snapped him up for £60m
The Portugal international played 34 times in his only season at Turin, having played a similar amount of games for Inter the year before.
Now he is proving to be a surprise creative asset for Guardiola’s City – and he already has a Premier League title, a Carabao Cup victory and a Champions League runners-up medal to his name after just two seasons.
EDINSON CAVANI – NAPOLI TO PSG (2013) – £58M
Edinson Cavani was brought up in Uruguay but became a household name during his seven years in Italy.
The forward enjoyed a decent spell at Palermo before Napoli for around £15m – and the Partenopei got their money back straight away.
Edinson Cavani was another talismanic Napoli striker before joining PSG’s riches in 2013
Cavani was quite simply a goal machine in southern Italy, scoring 33 goals in all competitions in each of his first two seasons – including five goals in five cup matches as Napoli lifted the 2012 Coppa Italia – before then hitting 38 in 43 during his final season there.
With Napoli struggling to give trophies the Uruguayan arguably deserved, in stepped PSG with £58m to prise him away from Serie A in 2013. Cavani would go on to score 200 goal in just over 300 games in the French capital, winning 21 career trophies.
ALISSON BECKER – ROMA TO LIVERPOOL (2018) – £56M
For over 15 years, Gianluigi Buffon was Italy’s most expensive goalkeeper sale after he went from Parma to Juventus for £35million in 2001.
Alisson Becker was adored at Roma but swapped Italy for Liverpool in a £56million deal
That all changed when Roma’s Brazilian shot stopper Alisson Becker was deemed the man to fix Liverpool’s goalkeeper dilemma in 2018.
For the first two-and-a-half years of Jurgen Klopp’s reign, the Reds were rotating between Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius with neither goalkeeper able to generate any sort of form, with mistakes aplenty.
Suddenly, the Merseysiders addressed the issue by making Alisson their main transfer target that summer and Liverpool won the Champions League, then the Premier League in the next two seasons.
The Brazilian goalkeeper has won the Premier League and Champions League titles at Anfield
Alisson also won the Premier League Golden Glove in his first season at Anfield, an award which went nicely next to the Champions League Goalkeeper of the Season prize that year. Money well spent.
MIRALEM PJANIC – JUVENTUS TO BARCELONA (2020) – £54M
Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic was named in the Serie A Team of the Year for four consecutive seasons between 2015 and 2019. No wonder Barcelona were so keen on him.
The creative fulcrum had a major impact on Serie A for both Roma and Juventus, scoring 42 goals and putting on 73 assists for both sides in just under 300 matches in Italy’s top-flight.
Miralem Pjanic has yet to hit the heights of his time in Italy since his £54m move to Barcelona
Barcelona made the midfielder a priority signing for £54m last summer but there was a catch – the Catalans had to let Arthur Melo go in the opposite direction with the two clubs agreeing on a £72m fee for the Brazilian international.
Despite ripping up Serie A in his nine seasons in Italian football, the 31-year-old has not yet hit those heights in Spain – failing to register a goal or an assist in 30 matches for Barcelona last term.
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