Romelu Lukaku has joined AS Roma on loan from Chelsea, reuniting with former Manchester United manager, José Mourinho.
Fabrizio Romano confirmed the move on X (Formerly Twitter):
Official, confirmed. Romelu Lukaku joins AS Roma on loan deal until June 🟡🔴
No buy option clause included — back to Chelsea next summer.
“Roma fans were incredible to me — I can’t wait to get started. The owners here have huge ambitions”, Lukaku said. pic.twitter.com/Tr7FpiOKGE
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 31, 2023
Mourinho, entering his second season as manager at Old Trafford, was said to be obsessed with the Belgian striker, believing him crucial to the Portuguese’s continued overhaul of United.
27 goals and 9 assists followed in what appeared, on the surface, an impressive debut year for Lukaku. His technical limitations were present throughout this season, however, as was the striker’s tendency towards petulance.
The following season proved decisive for both the player and manager’s futures at Old Trafford.
Mourinho was sacked in December on the back of a poor start and a deteriorating relationship with the United squad, to be replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjær on an interim basis. Lukaku blasted teammates during this time for not being able to deal with Mourinho’s toxicity.
Solskjær initially favoured Anthony Martial ahead of Lukaku, though the Belgian striker did play regularly as the season progressed. He was not content being second-choice however.
The following summer (2019) United sold Lukaku to Inter Milan in a deal worth £73 million, bringing an end to a mixed bag at Old Trafford. Few United fans were sad to see the Belgian go.
The 30-year-old striker enjoyed a productive time in Milan, however, winning Serie A in 2021 and being crowned the league’s Player of the Year in the process.
He was so productive, in fact, Chelsea sought to recapture his services at the end of that season, paying £97.5 million for the privilege. What followed, however, was nothing short of disastrous.
Lukaku began the 2021/22 season with a dominant display against Arsenal, scoring and winning the Man of the Match award. He would only score seven more times in the league that season, falling out with the fans and his new manager, Thomas Tuchel, in the process.
A loan back to Inter Milan promptly followed in the summer; the season in London essentially amounting to one of the most expensive loan deals in history for Chelsea.
A reasonable season last year for Inter followed, with 14 goals in all competitions. Inter were thought to be interested in securing Lukaku’s services on a permanent basis this summer but the Belgian had other plans.
Lukaku, prior to the end of Inter’s season, was holding secret negotiations with rivals Juventus. These talks were even occurring in the lead-up to Inter’s Champions League final match against Manchester City – a game Inter lost 1-0 with Lukaku missing a guilt-edged chance in the final few minutes. The critique that his head may have been elsewhere felt overwhelmingly valid.
Inter’s Club Director, Piero Ausilio, was said to be left “truly embittered” by these actions. He informed Lukaku Inter would not be signing him in a phone call that lasted less than thirty seconds.
A move to Juventus could, ironically, not be agreed either.
Chelsea were also adamant he would not be returning to London in any professional capacity. New Blues manager Mauricio Pochettino is yet to even have a conversation with him, despite Chelsea’s desperation this summer for a striker.
A hastily agreed loan move to Roma was the only option Lukaku had left.
Mourinho has always been a huge fan of the Belgian and a long-term injury to Tammy Abraham has left the Italian side with a vacancy up front. No option to buy has been included in the deal, however, underscoring just how little faith even Lukaku’s most ardent supporter has in him at this stage of his career.
A truly remarkable fall from grace for a footballer who too often let his mouth, rather than his feet, influence his career.