Romelu Lukaku confirms club he wants to join as Chelsea forward leaves door open to Saudi Arabia move

Romelu Lukaku could finally call a permanent end to his second stint at Chelsea this summer.

The Belgian international has made only 44 appearances for the Blues since returning to Stamford Bridge from Inter Milan in a deal worth a club record £97.5m back in 2021.

Lukaku held an explosive interview criticising the way in which former manager Thomas Tuchel was using him only months after re-joining the club and has subsequently been sent out on loan.

The striker returned to Inter on a temporary basis in 2022 and reached the Champions League final before infuriating the Nerazzurri by negotiating with arch rivals Juventus after that temporary stint.

Juventus then halted their interest amid protests from supporters, leaving Lukaku in something of a limbo. He rejected a move to Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal and ultimately rejoined former manager Jose Mourinho at AS Roma on loan.

The Italian capital club are not expected to re-sign the 31-year-old despite scoring 21 goals in 47 games, while Mourinho has denied any suggestion he will try to sign Lukaku for a third time after taking charge of Turkish giants Fenerbahce.

Napoli, now managed by Lukaku’s former Inter manager in Antonio Conte, are interested in a move for the £38m-rated striker.

Conte may need to replace star forward Victor Osimhen, though Chelsea are not expected to step up their long-standing interest in the Nigerian international having been put off by his £113m release clause.

Having previously snubbed interest from the Saudi Pro League, Lukaku has now spoken in glowing terms about the growing level of football in the country after heavy investment.

Antonio Conte is keen to reunite with Romelu Lukaku after his appointment at Napoli (AFP via Getty Images)
Antonio Conte is keen to reunite with Romelu Lukaku after his appointment at Napoli (AFP via Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia wouldn't stop me,” he told Belgian outlet HLN.

“The level will only increase. To a much higher level than many people think. More and more football players will tend to play there.

“Also because of how the fans there experience football. The infrastructure still needs to be improved, but all major European top clubs know: 'Saudi Arabia is coming'. You already see that in boxing, golf, Formula 1.”

Lukaku also expressed a desire to return to boyhood club Anderlecht at some point in his career.

“It will happen. And much earlier than many people think,” he added.

“I left Belgium when I was eighteen, you know.”

Standard Sport understands Chelsea are keen to sign a new striker this summer and are prepared to rival Arsenal’s interest in RB Leipzig forward Benjamin Sesko.