Despite enduring a season plagued by poor form and fitness issues, Inter are keen to retain striker Romelu Lukaku at the end of his loan from Chelsea. However, with the Nerazzurri’s financial concerns mounting, any deal would be dependent on receiving a favourable discount from the Premier League club.
As reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport, Inter will consider Lukaku‘s future at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza after their Champions League double-header against Porto, with the second leg of their Round of 16 tie due to conclude on March 14.
Season to forget for Lukaku
Lukaku fired the Nerazzurri to the Serie A title in 2021 with 24 league goals, before pushing through a move to Chelsea in a deal worth €115 million. A forgettable season back in England saw the striker fall out of favour under then-coach Thomas Tuchel, and he returned to Inter on loan last summer, making a dream start with a goal just two minutes into his second debut, in an opening day 2-1 win over Lecce.
It has turned into something of a nightmare since though, with Lukaku only finding the net once more all season, in a 4-0 win over Viktoria Plzen in October, and his injury troubles have limited him to just 540 minutes of action in all competitions.
The former Manchester United man is reported to be determined to stay at Inter next year though, whilst the club are also keen to keep hold of him. The prolific and at times unstoppable striker from his first spell, who struck 64 goals in 95 games, lives long in their memory and the Biscione are not ready to give up on that just yet.
Inter looking to halve Lukaku’s fee
However, to secure a place in the squad at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza next season, Lukaku must first prove he is over the thigh and calf injuries that have frustrated him since his return, as well as find some form over the coming months.
The latest feedback from Inter‘s medical staff is positive though, and there is optimism that he can rediscover his touch after impressing in recent training sessions.
Beyond this though, Inter President Steven Zhang is looking to cut costs and the Nerazzurri are no longer in a position to take Lukaku on loan next season on the terms currently agreed, set at €8m up front and a further €3m in bonuses. Given his poor form and limited playing time, there is scope for negotiation, but CEO Beppe Marotta has been tasked with reducing the overall cost by €8m, or even halving it.
The Biscione are boosted by a strong working relationship with Chelsea, strengthened by discussions during the sale of Primavera talent Cesare Casadei to Stamford Bridge last summer. Chelsea have also shown an interest in wingback Denzel Dumfries and it is thought that negotiations for the Dutchman could play into Inter‘s hands.
Firmino remains an option
With Lukaku starting Monday’s 0-0 draw against Sampdoria and being worked back up to full fitness ahead of the clashes against Porto, Inter are ready to show their faith in him prior to opening talks with Chelsea.
However, the Nerazzurri have already begun sounding out alternatives should the Belgian fail to convince between now and May, with Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino an option.
The Brazilian is out of contract at Anfield in the summer and is yet to agree new terms, whilst his agent has already proposed a move to Serie A. Inter would certainly be interested in Firmino, but their priority currently remains Lukaku.