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Romelu Lukaku-Dusan Vlahovic swap a smart move by Chelsea – but a divisive deal for Juventus

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The Blues will have to hand over a significant sum of cash to make the move happen, but it would solve two problems at once

Romelu Lukaku’s qualities as a footballer have long been a cause for debate. Some feel him unfairly maligned; others believe him to be grossly overrated. What is beyond dispute, though, is that Lukaku has a very rare gift for upsetting multiple fanbases – and often at the same time.Inter supporters were still furious at the nature of his sudden and silent departure for Chelsea in the summer of 2021 when he infamously issued an apology in an unsanctioned interview with Sky Sport Italia that sent shock waves through Stamford Bridge.Then, after being welcomed back to San Siro like the proverbial prodigal son following a dismal season in west London, and offered the chance to return to Milan on a permanent basis, Lukaku enraged everyone connected with the club by entering into secret talks with hated rivals Juventus over a transfer to Turin.The thing is, though, the Bianconeri faithful are also up in arms about their club’s interest in the Belgian – and not just because Lukaku famously stated in 2021 that he would never even consider joining the club because of his supposed love for Inter.

Their mix of disbelief and disappointment is rooted in the fact that Dusan Vlahovic will be sacrificed in order to make the move happen, with Chelsea now willing to hand over Lukaku and a significant sum of money for the Serbia international – despite being hesitant when the proposal was first raised at the start of the summer. Indeed, the only outstanding issue seems to be just how much cash the Premier League club will end up handing over.

An agreement should soon be reached, though, given Chelsea’s need for a No.9 is obvious. The Blues suffered from several serious issues last season – as they went through three coaches in total – but their primary problem was scoring goals.If pre-season is anything to go by, the arrivals of Christopher Nkunku and Nicolas Jackson should certainly help resolve their glaring lack of a cutting edge up front – but it’s clear that coach Mauricio Pochettino would welcome another No.9, particularly one with as much obvious potential as Vlahovic.

The Serbian took Serie A by storm at Fiorentina, scoring more league goals in 2021 (32) than Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah. Indeed, only Robert Lewandowski (42) bettered Vlahovic’s haul, which is why he was pursued by the likes of Arsenal during the 2022 January transfer window.

It was Juve, though, who won the race to sign the striker, paying €75 million (£63m/$85m) for his services shortly after a €400m (£335m/$450m) capital increase from the club’s parent company EXOR.

However, over the past 18 months, Juve’s financial situation has significantly worsened, resulting in them being banned from competing in European competition next season, while Vlahovic has failed to justify his fee. Consequently, Juve are looking to balance the books by cashing in on one of their most valuable assets.