Vlahovic and the four possible Lukaku replacements
Chelsea are in advanced negotiations to sign Romelu Lukaku from Inter, but who will replace the Belgian at San Siro?
The 28-year-old has expressed his desire to return to Stamford Bridge where he will receive a big pay rise that will reach €12-15 million a year.
All that is required to complete the deal is for Chelsea and Inter to agree on a transfer fee. Chelsea have already had a bid of €100m plus Marcos Alonso rejected.
Inter are understood to be asking for around €130m, with Chelsea set to launch a new offer.
Exactly how much of this money Inter are able to reinvest in new signings remains to be seen.
The club’s Chinese owners are heavily in debt and it is expected that Inter won’t be able to use all of the €120-130m they are expected to receive.
What is expected, though, is that the Nerazzurri will sign two forwards. One will be a direct replacement for Lukaku and be the starting number nine. The other will be a fourth-choice attacker, likely a younger player, such as Giacomo Raspadori of Sassuolo or Gianluca Scamacca of Genoa.
Below are the four strikers on Inter’s shortlist to directly replace Lukaku.
Duvan Zapata (Atalanta)
Atalanta striker Duvan Zapata is considered Inter’s favoured option to replace Lukaku should he leave.
The Colombian is a similar type of attacker to Lukaku; physically strong, able to play as a lone striker or in a two and with a good goal record.
Atalanta would be open to selling Zapata for around €40-50m but the question is whether Inter would sanction a move for that amount given the striker is 30 and will have no sell-on value.
Dusan Vlahovic (Fiorentina)
The dream move is Dusan Vlahovic, who emerged last season as arguably the most exciting young striker in Europe after Erling Haaland.
The 21-year-old scored 21 Serie A goals last term – most of them in 2021 – and like Lukaku is physically a monster with a powerful left foot.
However, Fiorentina have made it clear they wish to keep Vlahovic for at least another year and they will demand at least €60m for the Serbian.
This may push him out of Inter’s price range, even if his contract problems with the Viola offers the Nerazzurri hope.
Edin Dzeko (Roma)
The cheapest and most short-term option – not to mention the most available – is Roma’s Edin Dzeko.
The Bosnian lost his first-team place to Borja Mayoral last season under Paulo Fonseca, although it remains to be seen how he features in Jose Mourinho’s plans this time around.
At the age of 35, Dzeko would be available for around €10-15m and this might suit Inter’s Chinese owners given their financial issues.
If the most extreme rumours are true and Inter will only have around €30-35m of the Lukaku money to spend, then they may have to settle for someone like Dzeko.
Andrea Belotti (Torino)
Another reasonably low-cost option for Inter to replace Lukaku is Torino striker Andrea Belotti.
The Toro captain’s contract in Turin expires in 2022 and he is unsure whether to sign the new deal that has been offered to him.
At the age of 27, Belotti is considering finally joining a big club and Inter would have no problem matching the €3.3m salary offer from Torino.
His transfer fee would be €25-30m, although questions will be asked whether Belotti is prolific enough for Inter’s level.
He scored 13 Serie A goals last season but has had a poor 2021 and failed to find the net at Euro 2020 despite Italy winning the tournament.