Romelu Lukaku is reportedly eager to leave Chelsea and secure a move back to Italy less than a year after a record-breaking £97.5million move — but tax rules could scupper his Serie A return.
The 29-year-old finished the campaign as the Blues’ top goalscorer with 14 goals in all competitions but has endured a disappointing second spell in west London. The club’s record buy from Inter Milan has largely flattered to deceive with only eight goals in the Premier League for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
According to reports in Italy, Lukaku has his sights set on moving back to Serie A this summer after just one season back in England. Tuttomercatoweb claim AC Milan are keen on the Blues star, along with Juventus, but Italian tax rules mean that any potential deal would be complicated and therefore unlikely.
The report claims that Milan are open to a loan move but would still require Lukaku to take a wage cut on his £275,000-a-week salary. This is because they would not be eligible to use the growth decree tax option, which allows Italian clubs to apply a 50 per cent tax discount to player wages and therefore pay less tax on their salaries.
In the event of Lukaku moving back to Milan, the 50 per cent discount can’t be applied to professionals returning to the country after just one season abroad and if they sign contracts shorter than three years. In both instances, a loan agreement for Lukaku would not qualify. It remains possible that his former club Inter could make an offer to re-sign the striker who left them in August 2021. But Chelsea would be reluctant to make a loss on their club-record investment, which could throw another spanner in the works.
Lukaku has been actively pursuing a move back to Italy, where he spent two successful years, since December. The Belgian gave an ill-advised interview with Italian media back in December where he publicly declared his unhappiness with life in London, as well as taking aim at Tuchel’s tactics. The striker was forced to apologise and he was dropped from the starting XI by the German head coach.
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Despite appearing to put their bad blood to rest, Lukaku has struggled to hold down a regular spot under Tuchel since then, with Kai Havertz generally preferred as his first-choice No.9. Only towards the end of the season did Lukaku begin to contend for that position with three goals in as many games.
According to the report, Tuchel is open to letting him leave, but the difficulty in striking a deal that benefits all parties could see Lukaku remain at the club for the time being. The 48-year-old has shown a willingness to retain his services for next season after noticing an improvement in his work in training.
“For sure it is disappointing for him and not what we expected. But it is not finished and we will not give in,” he said in April. “We never give in with any players. We will push him – we will push as far as we can and as long as the player stays involved in the mentality that is needed to bring a team forward, he can still be a crucial player.”