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Former Chelsea youngster Romelu Lukaku left the club at a very young age, as he couldn’t keep up with the expectations at Stamford Bridge.
After excelling at the Goodison Park with Everton, Chelsea wanted the highly-rated Belgian back, with Blues boss Antonio Conte keen on signing him up before he sealed a £75m move to Manchester United and Chelsea ended up with Alvaro Morata.
Lukaku looked perfect for the Chelsea system under Conte, and the Italian boss used Eden Hazard as an intermediary to try to make the deal happen.
Lukaku has revealed how he almost signed up for Chelsea under Conte as he recently said in an interview with Sport Voetbalmagazine: “Conte told me: ‘If you get better playing with your back to the opponent’s goal, nobody can stop you.
“He spoke to me during the 2014 World Cup, just before leaving Juventus and then again when he was at Chelsea. Hazard was acting like a transfer market intermediary in those conversations. He gave my number to Chelsea’s sporting direct and that’s how Michael Emenalo called me one day and said: ‘Romelu, the coach wants you and only you.’
“I had an appointment in London and had no idea who would show up and there he was… I saw Conte. I should have known it that it couldn’t be anyone else.”
Lukaku will end up teaming with Conte at Inter Milan three years later, and the 27-year-old has been in very fine form.
Explaining how Conte has helped him become a better player, Lukaku added: “I know that it would happen someday. When Italy beat us in 2016 at the European Championship in France, I saw how their team did and I felt that something like that would suit me perfectly. For the first three months at Inter, he did nothing but train me with my back to the goal. At each training, he would put Ranocchia (1.95 meters, 82 kg) behind me and asked him to go hard against me. Every time I lost the ball, we had to start the drill again.”
Lukaku now believes that he’s currently among the best five strikers in the world at the moment, and with 11 goals in 13 Serie A games and 4 goals in 5 Champions League appearances, it’s not hard to see why he rates himself so highly.
Chelsea are still looking for that perfect number 9. Do you think Lukaku would have been the better signing rather than Alvaro Morata?