The rumors linking Lukaku with a move away from Manchester United have been swirling all summer, but as of yet the two clubs haven’t been past the “bid(s) made and rejected” portion of proceedings. As such, Conte is prepared to go a step further in courting the 26-year-old Belgian, stating his longstanding admiration and calling him “an important players for us” — quotes from the BBC:
“You know I like this player. In the past, when I was Chelsea’s coach, I tried to bring him to Chelsea.
“As I said before, I like this player and consider him an important player for us to have a good improvement but at the same there is a transfer market.
“We know very well which is our situation at the moment and we will see what happens but for now Lukaku is a United player.”
Man United paid $96 million for Lukaku just two years ago, so it would be unwise to expect them to let him leave for anything short of $80 million, if Inter are lucky.
Mauro Icardi’s tumultuous time at Inter Milan might finally be coming to a close after Inter Milan chief executive officer Beppe Marotta revealed that the Argentine is “not part of our plans, with all due respect.”
With a full rebuild already taking place under new manager Antonio Conte, Icardi’s long overdue departure from the club now seems only a matter of when, not if. Marotta left it in no uncertain terms and also cast aside midfielder Radja Nainggolan — quotes from Football Italia:
“When building a project, you have to find the right profiles. We had the opportunity to speak to the players themselves, with full respect for their contractual situations, but explained the position of the club, which I think is the most important thing.
“Both players know full well they are not part of our plans. That doesn’t mean we doubt their talent or capabilities, as I consider them to be two excellent players.
“Talent can win you games, but the squad wins you the league, which is the main objective we are setting out for. They are not part of our project, with all due respect.”
Icardi is said to come with a price tag of nearly $70 million, which leaves only a handful of clubs with the financial means to sign him. The most likely scenario is that Icardi remains in Serie A, with Juventus and Napoli reportedly interested in strengthening their respective squads at the expense of a fellow top-three side.
It appears only the official club announcement on its website and multiple social media platforms is all that stands between Frank Lampard becoming Chelsea’s new manager.
Multiple outlets in England reported Wednesday evening that Lampard arrived at Stamford Bridge late in the afternoon to put the finishing touches on his contract. He likely also took part in a photo shoot and interviews that are all expected to be released on Thursday. One report claimed that Lampard’s announcement as manager was delayed because Facebook and Instagram were experiencing technical difficulties on Wednesday, although it’s not clear that that was the the case.
The move has seemed inevitable since Derby County officially granted Chelsea the right to speak with Lampard about the Blues open managerial position.
As Chelsea is about to kick off its preseason training, it’s been without a coach since Mid-June, when Maurizio Sarri left the club to take the Juventus job.
Lampard comes with just one season of managerial experience, his last season at Derby where he led them to the Championship Playoff Final, but he wasn’t able to see his side promoted to the Premier League.
The Guardian reports that Lampard has received assurances he will be given time to mold the squad to his liking, especially with an expected transfer ban to be in place this summer. The ban, issued by FIFA and currently being litigated in the Court for Arbitration of Sport, could potentially last through June 2020.
The hiring of Lampard is a big departure from the more recent trend of hiring experienced managers, with Sarri, Antonio Conte, Rafa Benitez and Carlo Ancelotti all bringing tears of experience with them.
However, Lampard’s preferred high-pressing style he displayed with Derby could fit with a younger Chelsea squad were expected to see this season, as older players like Willian and Pedro could leave entering the final years of their contracts.
Lampard will be given time and trust by the fans, but it remains to be seen how they’ll feel if Chelsea is sitting in tenth place after the first three months of the season, for example.
Top 10 Premier League stars set for summer transfers
Below is a look at the top 10 names who could be moving, and why, with some huge transfer fees involved.
1. Paul Pogba (Man United) Transfer fee: $150 million Reason: Pogba wants a new challenge and his inconsistent displays and fact he has an initial two years left on his current contract means United can now make a profit on him. United have said that want to keep him, but that is probably just to keep his transfer value high. Things haven’t worked out for Pogba at United, and everybody should now go their separate ways. Possible destination(s): Real Madrid, Juventus Will it happen? 90 percent chance
2. Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace) Transfer fee: $70 million Reason: Wan-Bissaka has told Palace he wants to move on, and at 21 years of age he will see this move as being a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity. Palace will loathe to sell him, but realize that after a stunning first full season in the PL, his value may never be higher than it is right now. A future England international, Wan-Bissaka’s pace and power make him the perfect modern full back. Possible destination(s): Manchester United Will it happen? 90 percent chance
3. Christian Eriksen (Tottenham) Transfer fee: $60 million Reason: Eriksen is another player who has come out and said now feels like the right time for a change. And he has excelled at Spurs over the past six seasons, with many believing he is underrated when it comes to Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Son getting the plaudits at Spurs. A move to Spain beckons as he has just one year left on his current contract, hence the relatively low transfer value. Possible destination(s): Real Madrid, Barcelona Will it happen? 95 percent chance
4. WilfriedZaha (Crystal Palace) Transfer fee: $100 million Reason: Like Pogba and Eriksen, Zaha gave an interview after Palace’s season saying he wants to win trophies and play in the Champions League. That will alert plenty of clubs across England and Europe. Palace won’t want to lose both Zaha and Wan-Bissaka, but it seems likely both could force away moves. The Eagles weren’t as over-reliant on Zaha last season as they have been previously, but losing his pace and power to their counter-attacking play would be a huge blow. Possible destination(s): Tottenham, Liverpool Will it happen? 60 percent chance
5. Harry Maguire (Leicester City) Transfer fee: $112 million Reason: At the age of 26, Maguire is about to enter his prime and has been loyal to Leicester as Man United chased him last summer. The England international has enjoyed another stellar season for club and country and his marauding runs have continued. Both City and United want to sign him but Leicester have put a $100 million price tag on his head to try and put off potential suitors. After seeing the impact Virgil Van Dijk had at Liverpool, both Man City and Man United will be thinking Maguire could do the same for them. Possible destination(s): Man United, Man City Will it happen? 70 percent chance
6. Romelu Lukaku (Man United) Transfer fee: $75 million Reason: Not a regular starter at United anymore despite 42 goals in 96 games for them. Lukaku has been overtaken by Rashford and Martial, and he has been speaking positively about Serie A and Inter Milan’s new coach Antonio Conte. Is that a coincidence? Nope. His game would suit the Italian top-flight well, and if United want to get back the majority of the $90 million they paid Everton for him in 2017, now is the time to sell as Lukaku will spend most of next season on the bench under Solskjaer. Possible destination(s): Inter Milan Will it happen? 90 percent chance
7. James Maddison (Leicester City) Transfer fee: $75 million Reason: He flourished in his first full season in the PL after joining Leicester from Norwich for $25 million last summer, and no player created more goalscoring opportunities than Maddison. Currently with the England U21 side, Maddison’s future will be sorted out later in the summer. He may spend one more season at Leicester under Rodgers, and with Maguire a wanted man too, Leicester are unlikely to sell two of their stars this summer. Maddison, 22, will be playing for one of the top six teams very soon though. Possible destination(s): Man City, Man United, Tottenham Will it happen? 60 percent chance
8. Issa Diop (West Ham) Transfer fee: $75 million Reason: At just 22 years of age Diop’s first season in the PL went very well indeed. West Ham’s previously porous defense was shored up largely thanks to his partnership with Fabian Balbuena and Diop is now a man in demand. The French center back joined West Ham from Toulouse for $27.5 million last summer and they could be looking at a huge profit, but are under no pressure to sell. Diop knows he would be a guaranteed starter at United, which could turn his head, and his turn of pace and supreme aerial ability set him apart. Possible destination(s): Man United, PSG, Barcelona Will it happen? 60 percent chance
9. Toby Alderweireld (Tottenham) Transfer fee: $32.1 million Reason: Spurs handed him a one-year contract extension last summer, but that meant Alderweireld could leave for just $32.1 million this summer. A clause inserted into his deal stacked the cards in his favor, and at the age of 30 the Belgian international has one more big move left in his career. With Davinson Sanchez and Juan Foyth around, there could be a changing of the guard in Spurs’ defense this summer. Pochettino will not want to lose Alderweireld, but Spurs can’t pay him what other clubs can. Possible destination(s): Barcelona, Man United Will it happen? 80 percent chance
10. Mesut Ozil (Arsenal) Transfer fee: Loan Reason: This just isn’t going to work, is it? Mesut Ozil doesn’t fit into Unai Emery‘s system at Arsenal and unless Emery goes, Ozil’s future with the Gunners isn’t looking bright. The best he can hope for next season is regular run outs in the Europa League on a Thursday night. He’s the highest-earner at the club, so getting somebody else to pay all of his $440,000 per week wage is going to be tough. The best Arsenal can do is to pay a chunk of Ozil’s wages and loan him out for this season. He still has another two seasons on the monster contract he signed in January 2018 and seems happy to stay at Arsenal. On his day his talent is undoubted, but he just doesn’t fit into Arsenal’s new system at all. Possible destination(s): Besiktas, Fenerbache, Galatasaray Will it happen? 50 percent chance
Other notable PL players to keep an eye on this summer:
Romelu Lukaku‘s future seems to be far away from Manchester United, and his national team boss is urging the Red Devils to let the striker move on this summer.
In a statement released to our partners Sky Sports, Belgium head coach Roberto Martinez suggested that Lukaku and United need to come to an agreement soon and that he “has to leave United” this summer.
The 26-year-old has spoken glowingly about Antonio Conte, who has just take over as boss of Inter Milan, and also about Serie A in general as he’s been linked with a $75 million move to Inter.
“Romelu Lukaku and Manchester United need to find the right solution for both parties. If United and Rom are happy with a change, it will be a matter of finding the right club and challenge for Rom,” Martinez said. “Romelu is under contract with Manchester United, and the club will make the decision on his future. If the future is for Romelu to have a big role at Manchester United, Romelu will be ready to fulfill it.”
Lukaku’s future is more than a little up in the air and his agent Federico Pastorello has previously said his future would be sorted by the end of the 2018-19 campaign.
And here we are.
Despite a poor 2018-19 campaign where he struggled with confidence and found himself out of the team under both Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Lukaku’s record since joining United from Everton in 2017 for $90 million isn’t that bad.
He’s scored 42 goals in 96 games in all competitions, which is just under the hallowed ratio all strikers aim for of a goal every other game. But Lukaku’s hold-up play and the fact he has missed big chances for United have seen fans turn on him, plus the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard are better suited to the counter-attacking style Solskjaer prefers.
United will want to get a large chunk of the $90 million that paid Everton for Lukaku back if they do sell him, but that’s unlikely given his poor second half of last season. His transfer value will drop even further if, as expected, he isn’t one of the main men for Solskjaer early in the upcoming season.
Like the situation with Paul Pogba, now is the best time for everyone involved for Lukaku to move on.