Chelsea are ready to take advantage of Romelu Lukaku’s decision to reject Everton’s contract extension offer by launching a summer move for their former striker, three years after allowing him to leave because Jose Mourinho did not deem him good enough for his first team.
News emerged late on Tuesday night that Lukaku had rejected the contract that he was “99.9999 per cent” sure to sign, according to his agent, Mino Raiola, in quotes given last month.
The rejection is a major blow to Everton’s hopes of keeping the Belgium international, having previously thought that their determination to break into the top four and willingness to spend in the transfer market – as demonstrated by the £22m signing of Morgan Schneiderlin – had convinced him to extend his stay at Goodison Park beyond this summer.
Lukaku could yet agree a new deal, with reports suggesting that he will now demand that a release clause of no more than £70m is inserted into the £140,000-a-week, five-year deal that he was poised to sign.
But The Mirror reports that Chelsea are ready to reignite their interest in the 23-year-old, having already seen a £57m bid rejected last summer, with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Real Madrid also monitoring the situation surrounding the current Premier League top goalscorer – level on 19 goals with Tottenham’s Harry Kane.
Manchester United are also being linked with a move for Lukaku, although the Belgian wasn’t in Jose Mourinho’s summer transfer plans due to the belief that he would remain with the Toffees for at least another year.
Lukaku has said that he has “unfinished business” at Chelsea, and has also repeatedly expressed his desire to play in the Champions League sooner rather than later. In all likeliness, Everton cannot offer Champions League football next season, whereas Chelsea can confirm their return to the competition in as little as six league games’ time following a season absence.
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United may be able to capitalise though on their relationship with Lukaku’s agent, Raiola, given he helped structure the transfers last summer of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.