Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images
Everton striker Romelu Lukaku is reportedly eager to rejoin former club Chelsea this summer, but the Toffees would prefer to sell him to Manchester United because relations are sour between the Merseyside outfit and the Blues.
According to Matt Law in the Telegraph, after refusing to pen a new deal with Everton in March, Lukaku has “told friends” of his desire to move back to Stamford Bridge, having transferred to Goodison Park for £28 million in 2014.
Per Law, Everton have slapped a £100 million price tag on Lukaku in an attempt to ward off suitors and would be loath to let him join Chelsea given the falling-out between the two clubs over John Stones two years ago.
If Everton had to see the Belgian striker leave the club, they would rather he moved to Old Trafford, but it is unclear whether United manager Jose Mourinho has any interest in signing Lukaku, Law noted.
Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images
Chelsea could well be in need of a new first-choice striker next season, as it is looking increasingly likely that Diego Costa will leave Stamford Bridge.
According to Sami Mokbel in the Daily Mail, he remains a target for Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian, who made him a stunning £32 million-per-year offer to the player in January.
Since then, Costa has been unusually short of form, netting only three Premier League goals in 2017 and none in his past five Chelsea appearances in the English top flight, per Squawka:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Diego Costa’s last 5 Premier League games:
19 fouls committed
3 yellow cards
3 shots on target
0 chances created
0 goals https://t.co/LRlsyYt0Nj
4/16/2017, 6:08:53 PM
As Mokbel noted, there are fears he has had his head turned by the offer from China. Tianjin Quanjian are said to be eager to push the deal over the line this summer, while Blues manager Antonio Conte “has already started planning for life without Costa.”
Chelsea could do a lot worse than sign Lukaku, who has been a consistent goalscoring menace in England for five seasons now and, at 23, is still a young player.
|Lukaku vs. Costa: Premier League Goals by Season|
|2016-17||24 (2817)||17 (2668)|
|2015-16||18 (3177)||12 (2379)|
|2014-15||10 (2877)||20 (2085)|
His return of 24 league goals so far this season is four more than the next-most prolific goalscorer, Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, per WhoScored.com.
Like Costa, Lukaku is able to bully opposition defences and has a knack for finding the back of the net. He is also strong when running on the ball.
Given he is already familiar with Chelsea and a proven Premier League goalscorer, he could likely slip easily into Conte’s side.
Lukaku is an obvious choice to replace Costa, as he reportedly wants to move back to Chelsea and has the pedigree to thrive. But Everton’s reluctance to deal with the Blues and the Belgian’s price tag could prove stumbling blocks.