Enzo Maresca tasked with finding resolution to Chelsea's £97.5m issue

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Chelsea's newly appointed manager, Enzo Maresca, is confronted with a pressing challenge in resolving the ongoing issue surrounding striker Romelu Lukaku. After returning to Stamford Bridge from Inter Milan in 2021 for a then-club record fee of £97.5 million, the Belgian international has spent the last two seasons on loan in Italy. This move came after he fell out of favour with former manager Thomas Tuchel.

In December 2021, Lukaku expressed his unhappiness with Tuchel's tactics and his desire to return to Inter in a controversial interview with Sky Italia. This led to him being dropped from the squad and subsequently securing loan moves to Inter and then Roma, where he scored an impressive 21 goals in 47 appearances under Jose Mourinho last season.

Despite his strong form in Italy, Chelsea have made it clear that they have no intention of sending Lukaku out on loan for a third consecutive season. The club is reportedly seeking a permanent sale for the 31-year-old striker, with a release clause believed to be set at £38 million as per Sky Sports.

While some clubs have started offering lower bids, Chelsea remain firm in their stance and are prepared to discuss Lukaku's future with clubs in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere.

As Maresca takes over from Mauricio Pochettino, he must now decide how to handle the Lukaku situation. Belgium's national team manager, Domenico Tedesco, has highlighted the striker's positive influence, particularly on younger players, and praised his knowledge of the game. Tedesco emphasised Lukaku's importance both on and off the pitch, noting his goal-scoring ability and his understanding of when to pass or shoot.

Romelu Lukaku
AS Roma v Genoa CFC - Serie A TIM / Image Photo Agency/GettyImages

However, it appears that Lukaku's time at Chelsea is coming to an end, with the club determined to secure a permanent transfer and move on from the saga that has overshadowed the team in recent years.

Maresca will need to prioritise finding a resolution to the Lukaku situation and ensure that the club can focus on strengthening the squad for the upcoming season.

Chelsea have already completed their first transfer of the summer with the arrival of Tosin Adarabioyo on a free signing, providing depth in a weakened position following Thiago Silva's departure.

However, departures before the start of the new season are nonetheless expected, and Lukaku's future remains a key issue for the club to address.

Napoli, under new manager Antonio Conte, have also shown interest in Lukaku, but they may need to sell star striker Victor Osimhen to afford the £38 million fee. If Napoli fail to meet the asking price, Chelsea will consider options in Saudi Arabia and other European clubs.

With Lukaku set to feature for Belgium at Euro 2024, it remains to be seen whether a transfer will be completed before the tournament begins. As Chelsea prepare for a potential transfer breakthrough, Maresca and the club's hierarchy will be working diligently to find a suitable resolution that benefits all parties involved.