Romelu Lukaku has told friends that he wants to rejoin Chelsea this summer, which is poised to spark another bitter battle between the Premier League leaders and Everton.
Chelsea’s relationship with Everton was severely damaged by the wrangle over John Stones two years ago that the Goodison Park club eventually won.
Stones eventually joined Manchester City a year ago and sources have told The Telegraph that the fallout between Everton and Chelsea was so bad that the Goodison club would rather sell Lukaku to Manchester United than see him go to Stamford Bridge.
But Everton’s position is complicated by Lukaku’s desire to return to Stamford Bridge, which club insiders are aware of, and doubts over whether Jose Mourinho really wants the Belgian at United.
Mourinho has made Antoine Griezmann his No1 target this summer and is believed to still hold doubts over Lukaku, who was not picked when he was Chelsea manager.
Everton have made it clear that they are willing to fight over Lukaku, who still has two years remaining on his contract, and have placed a £100 million price tag on the Premier League’s top scorer.
Lukaku is understood to feel he has unfinished business at Chelsea, where he failed to score during three years at the club, and wants to prove he can be a success there.
But, to get his way, Lukaku may have to hand in a transfer request and leave Everton with little option but to sell him to Chelsea.
Lukaku has already stunned Everton by telling them he will not sign a new contract, just hours before he had been due to put pen to paper on a five-year deal last month.
The Telegraph understands Lukaku was due at a meeting to sign a new contract only to undergo a change of heart on the day of the scheduled get-together.
Chelsea are lining up bids for Lukaku and Arsenal contract rebel Alexis Sánchez, with doubts remaining over Diego Costa’s future.
Costa’s form has dipped badly since a row with head coach Antonio Conte over a lucrative offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian and the 28-year-old will hold talks with his club when the season ends.
With two years remaining on his contract, Chelsea must decide whether to sell Costa this summer or offer him a new deal.
Conte will want Costa to end his six-game goal drought in Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur and is hopeful of having both Marcos Alonso and Thibaut Courtois available.
Left wing-back Alonso, who missed the defeat to Manchester United, trained on Tuesday and is expected to be fit to play at Wembley, while goalkeeper Courtois is still hoping to make it. The Belgian trained on Thursday and Chelsea must now wait to see how his ankle reacts before deciding whether or not he can face Spurs.
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Meanwhile, John Terry, who is a target for Bournemouth and West Bromwich Albion after announcing he will leave Chelsea at the end of the season, has confirmed he will delay a decision over his next club.
In a statement, Terry wrote: “I want to stress that the journey is not yet over. I am fully focused on helping the team and manager in every way I can from now until the end of the season.”