Romelu Lukaku has claimed Chelsea’s No 9 shirt after his club record £97.5m signing from Internazionale, but arrives back from Italy as more than a traditional centre-forward.
He insists that his two seasons in Serie A have improved both technical and tactical aspects of his game and that he is a “more complete” player than when he left the Premier League in 2019.
He was top scorer in both his campaigns at Inter under former Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte, and won the Scudetto last season.
“I think I have learned much more about myself, setting high standards for myself. As a player, I think it is about becoming more complete.
“The game in Italy is different, much tighter spaces, much more technical and tactical, which helped me a lot. The English game is different, but whatever game plan that the coach [Thomas Tuchel] has, I can adapt myself and help the team.”
Antwerp-born Lukaku first joined Chelsea from Anderlecht in 2011 but made only one Premier League start for the club. After spells on loan to West Bromwich Albion and Everton, he relocated permanently to Goodison Park in 2014 for £28m, moving on to Manchester United for £75m in 2017 then Inter for a similar sum in 2019. He is Belgium’s all-time top scorer with 64 goals from 98 games, and is confident that he will fit in quickly back at Stamford Bridge.
“I always ask my team-mates questions about what they what they want, what they expect from me and how I can help them, [tell them] where I want the ball,” he said on Wednesday.
“So for the next couple of weeks it is very important to communicate with the players. We have a certain type of playing style here, but it’s not something I have to adapt to much because in the Belgian national team we play in the same system.”
Of the players on duty in Lukaku’s farewell Chelsea appearance, against Bayern Munich on August 30 2013 in the Super Cup, only captain Cesar Azpilicueta and goalkeeper Petr Cech, now the technical director, remain at Stamford Bridge, but Lukaku said: “When I was in quarantine, Azpi was already messaging me with how to find houses and it was like I was never gone, the relationship was still intact.
“Now I have the chance to join a team that is very ambitious. I did a whole pre-season and I’m available if the manager wants to play me [against Arsenal on Sunday]. It’s going to be a tough game and we’re preparing ourselves for a battle. We want to keep building after the good result we had against Crystal Palace.”