When Romelu Lukaku hangs up his boots for good and takes time to look back and reflect on his career, this past week or so will without a doubt cross his mind.
It can safely be said that Internazionale Milano has been the club where the Belgian has made his best home and shown his best form, yet he has decided to abandon it for a second time.
Reports from various sources across the world of Calcio this past weekend revealed that the entourage of the former Manchester United and Everton striker had been in contact with Inter’s most bitter and hated rivals Juventus over a move and had been in dialogue with the Bianconieri since prior to the Champions League final last month whilst going missing in action on all calls that were made to him by Nerazzuri hierarchy.
Upon hearing this shock revelation, Inter have halted all negotiations with the player’s parent club Chelsea with transfer boss Piero Ausilio even ringing up Lukaku directly to inform him that the club were now no longer interested in bringing him back.
Now let us cast our minds back to the summer of 2019 when Mauro Icardi left San Siro hand in hand with his wife Wanda Nara due to a very public spat with then coach Luciano Spaletti and some of the senior players. Inter then had to look for a replacement number nine that would bring goals and become a focal point for the side.
The club opted to make a move to sign Lukaku, a player who was becoming something of laughing stock at Manchester United, famed for his poor close control and his lack of proficiency in front of goal. At United, all eyes were on him and despite his record not actually being that bad on paper, fans were taking him to pieces.
The Belgian landed in Italy and was an immediate success under Antonio Conte. After a gruelling pre-season where Lukaku was clattered and battered by Andrea Ranocchia in an attempt to make him improve his close control and make use of his pace on the turn, he became a man reborn. Inter finished second with Lukaku netting 23 league goals but it was to be the year after that would define his legacy.
A Scudetto win with 24 goals added in the process saw Lukaku worshipped as the side’s talisman in the eyes of the fans. His exceptional partnership with Lautaro Martinez made them one of Europe’s most deadliest goal tandems and his reputation was improving week on week.
This however was to be his downfall.
Idolised by a fan base who were in dreamland after winning their first league title since the Triplete, Lukaku was a hero. His problem was he simply could not resist the lure of the Premier League and this idea of creating some sort of redemption arc for himself in search of love and validation from fans as opposed to them making fun of him.
Some have said his decision to leave the Scudetto winning side was to help bring in Inter some much needed funds but it is clear that the Belgium striker had his sights set on proving to the Premier League that he was a much better player that the one that had left Old Trafford to memes and mockery.
His big money move to Chelsea turned out to be a disaster. Despite returning to a club he claimed to support and had helped him during his formative years, Lukaku cut a forlorn figure in a Thomas Tuchel side that simply had no room or understanding of how to use him.
Lukaku soon went back into a meme and his two years in Milan had become undone so in stepped Inter to rescue him from the nightmare last summer, much to the dismay of the club’s ultras who stated he needed to earn back their respect.
After persevering with his niggly injuries that kept him from showing any decent form until the end of the season, Inter made it their priority this summer to try and settle up a deal with Chelsea to allow him to become a permanent Nerazzuri player.
At 30 years old, laughed at by the Premier League and now starting to pick up niggly injuries and even taking into account the fact he walked out on them post Scudetto, Inter still tried to give Lukaku back his happy place. What makes it even worse is this revelation that he has been speaking to Inter’s rivals Juventus behind their backs.
Inter have given Lukaku every chance to be successful and have made a home for him when others have laughed him out of their buildings yet he has now repaid them by actively seeking a move to a rival club behind their back and even dragging his heels in regards to a return despite openly saying he loved Inter.
Let us also not forget that it was fans of Juventus who racially abused the striker during their Coppa Italia match last season also.
Romelu Lukaku is and has been a fantastic footballer but his career will ultimately been defined by bad decisions and missed opportunities to show the footballing world what a great player he is on his day. Inter were the only club in his career so far at top level that gave him that showcase and he has now walked out on them twice.
Inter deserve better and are right to take the stance they have and move on.
Jake Smalley | GIFN