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Romelu Lukaku Has Officially Gone "Home" But That Does Not Mean His Chelsea Career Is Over

Romelu Lukaku burned his bridges with many Chelsea fans months ago when he made it clear he wanted out.

In an explosive mid-season interview with Sky Sport Italia he spoke out against Thomas Tuchel's tactics and also said: "I really hope in the depths of my heart to return to Inter, not at the end of my career, but at a still good level to hopefully win more."

That wish came true this week when Lukaku, 29, officially completed his return to Inter Milan on a season-long loan, less than 12 months after joining Chelsea for a transfer fee of £97.5 million.

Speaking in his first interview as an Inter loanee, Lukaku said: "It's like coming home."

Will Romelu Lukaku Ever Play For Chelsea Again?

To get Lukaku back for the entirety of the 2022/23 season, Inter have paid Chelsea a loan fee of £6.9m, according to BBC Sport.

It is understood that there is no option or obligation to buy in the deal.

Therefore, unless a separate agreement is reached between the two clubs before this time next year, Lukaku will have to leave his "home" and go back to Stamford Bridge.

After all, his contract with Chelsea - worth more than £200,000 per week, as reported by London's Evening Standard newspaper - does not expire until June 2026.

Right now it may be hard to imagine Lukaku resuming his Chelsea career. He is not wanted by the manager and certainly not by the fans.

But there is no guarantee that Tuchel will still be in charge next summer, while fans are famously fickle and their feelings are rarely taken on board anyway.

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Romelu Lukaku pictured kissing the Chelsea badge on his jersey after scoring in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa in September 2021

Romelu Lukaku pictured kissing the Chelsea badge on his jersey after scoring in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa in September 2021, before his relationship with the club soured

The reality is that Chelsea will have to find a taker for Lukaku again in 2023.

Inter will likely want to keep him, but at what cost? They could not afford to pay Chelsea his market value to buy him this summer, while his wages are also too high for the Serie A side to match long-term.

If no deal is agreed, Chelsea would be foolish to banish him from their first team completely in 2023/24.

Partly because Lukaku is a talented player who has the potential to have a positive impact on games, especially in the five-subs era.

But also because keeping Lukaku in and around the first team gives him the chance to impress and persuade another club that he is worth paying for.

One sure-fire way for a club to drive down a player's value even further is to make it clear that they have zero intention of playing him.

Lukaku will likely want to stay at Inter beyond 2023, but it is plausible that part of him could feel that he has unfinished business at Stamford Bridge.

He won the FIFA Club World Cup with the Blues in February but that remains his only piece of silverware with an English team.

Although he had impressive spells with West Brom and Everton, Lukaku is currently seen as one of the Premier League's biggest flops of all time, after failing to live up to big price tags with Manchester United and Chelsea.

A flop might well be how is he remembered in England for ever, but don't be surprised if he adds another chapter to his Chelsea career before 2026.