Why Lukaku failed in his first Chelsea spell

Cameron Smith

Romelu Lukaku looks set for a sensational return to Chelsea, in a move that will see the Blues reportedly pay Inter around €130 million(£110m) to acquire his services.

Chelsea had heavily been linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland earlier this summer, but deemed the Norwegian too expensive and have instead focused their efforts on Belgium's all-time record goal-scorer.

The move now seems almost complete, but it's not the first time the Blues have expressed an interest in their former striker. In fact, back in 2017, they fought with Manchester United over his signature, and the general consensus was that Lukaku would arrive at Stamford Bridge, while Alvaro Morata would end up at Man Utd.

The opposite happened - angering Antonio Conte - who finally got his man at Inter. But, with Conte leaving San Siro, Lukaku looks set to depart as well, with a return to Chelsea a chance to prove himself in the Premier League once more.

The aforementioned move to Man Utd didn't exactly work out, but he had previously failed to make the grade during his initial spell at Chelsea. What went wrong for Lukaku in his first period at Stamford Bridge?

Experience over youth

Lukaku was signed by Chelsea from Anderlecht in 2011, for a fee of around €16m (£13.5m), a huge amount for an 18-year-old, but the Blues hierarchy and fans saw him as a natural replacement for Didier Drogba.

In that first season, he played just 160 minutes of football in all competitions, and a mid-season managerial change didn't help things. Andre Villas Boas began the season as head coach, but after a run of poor results, most notably in the first-leg of Chelsea's Champions League last-16 tie against Napoli, he was sacked.

Roberto Di Matteo replaced him, and immediately decided to opt for experience over youth. Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and John Obi Mikel were among those who were given a starring role under the new man in charge, and it worked a charm.

The Blues won the Champions League final and, much like with Tino Anjorin last season under Thomas Tuchel, Di Matteo wasn't able to risk anything and give Lukaku game time.

A loan spell to West Brom for the 2012/13 season followed, and Lukaku showed his class. He started just 20 league games, but somehow managed to score 17 goals for a struggling Baggies side, including a hat-trick against Man Utd in Sir Alex Ferguson's final game in charge of the Old Trafford club.

The Super Cup penalty miss

Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea for the 2013/14 season, and after the Blues won the Europa League, they played in the Super Cup final against Bayern Munich.

Lukaku had returned from his outstanding loan spell at West Brom by this time, and Mourinho had planned on bedding him into the squad.

With the Super Cup final moving into extra-time, Lukaku replaced Fernando Torres and Chelsea looked set for victory. A last minute equaliser from Javi Martinez sent the game to penalties, and guess who missed the decisive penalty? Lukaku.

It was saved by Manuel Neuer, and while the Super Cup is a glorified friendly to many, it meant so much more to Lukaku.

According to an in-depth article by The Independent, Lukaku 'was so affected by his penalty miss, he felt as though he needed time away from Chelsea'.

The Belgian was then sent on loan to Everton, where he thrived once more. Upon his return, he was sold permanently by Chelsea, having never scored a goal for the club.

Diego Costa

After that first year at Everton, Lukaku returned to Chelsea, but having enjoyed his time at Goodison Park, he wanted to return permanently.

Mourinho sanctioned Lukaku's €33m (£28m) move to Merseyside in the knowledge Diego Costa had already joined the club.

The fiery forward had scored 36 goals in all competitions for Atletico Madrid the year before, and he was perfect for Mourinho.

Costa fired Chelsea to the title in his first year at the club, and Lukaku was forgotten about.

Until now...