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Romelu Lukaku travelled to Saudi Arabia, no less than 24 hours after appearing in the UEFA Champions League Final with loan club Inter, to discuss a transfer to Saudi Arabia, according to Goal. Furthermore, the Chelsea forward was subsequently offered a two-year contract to join Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal.
30-year-old Lukaku, who netted ten Serie A goals over the last season, has not instantly dismissed this lucrative offer. The player himself has received a deal worth £43million to make the move, but the Belgian international is looking to get as much as possible if he is indeed prepared to leave European football.
It was reported last month, again by Goal, that newly-appointed Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino was willing to give Lukaku the opportunity to resurrect his career with the Premier League club. However, the club would be willing to accept an offer of just over £42million to let him go, although Al-Hilal aren’t interested in paying this amount.
Therefore, although Lukaku has indeed received an offer from the Saudi-based club, it would appear there is still some legs in this deal before it is concluded, if at all. Negotiations on both sides are set to continue, especially if Chelsea want him off the wage bill, and the player himself is willing to commit to making the move to the Middle East.
In an ideal world for Lukaku, he wants to stay in Serie A with Inter, where he has made himself at home. It was his initial impressive form for the club which forced Chelsea to re-sign him in 2021 for a fee believed to be £97.5million. However, less than a year later he was back at Inter after a controversial TV interview led to his departure.
Should this deal materialise, Lukaku would become the latest high-profile individual to make the switch to Saudi Arabian football. Cristiano Ronaldo and more recently Karim Benzema are now plying their trade in the league. Lionel Messi turned down such a move, and it also looks to be turning the heads of manager’s too as Steven Gerrard is primed to soon coach here.
Lukaku: What happens now?
Firstly, the fact that Lukaku travelled to Saudi Arabia to discuss this deal would suggest there is some interest from him in making the move. He didn’t need to travel as quickly as he did, having played in the UEFA Champions League Final the day before. You could argue he may holiday in this part of the world, with the season over, and is mixing business with pleasure.
Chelsea hold all the cards in this deal in one respective. Lukaku is, as things stand, a Chelsea player. His contract at Stamford Bridge still has a further three years left to run. They’ll want to receive a price worthy of accepting and aim to reduce their losses as much as possible. Lukaku does not want to entertain a return, so he could force a move and make Chelsea’s life as uncomfortable as possible.
The Saudi Pro League season finished a few weeks’ ago, so there isn’t a mad need to rush this deal through. Lukaku will want to rest up ahead of next season anyway, wherever that may be. Football in Saudi Arabia however is making headlines, and the powers that be could want to get this deal done quickly to maintain the momentum they seemingly have.
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