Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has spoken out on Romelu Lukaku’s transfer to Chelsea ahead of the Blues’ visit to north London on Sunday afternoon – claiming that his former star was a ‘good signing’ for the club.
Chelsea signed Lukaku from Inter Milan for a club-record fee last summer, and the Belgian got off to the best possible start by scoring three goals in as many Premier League games on his return to Stamford Bridge.
But hardship then followed; just two league goals until the end of the season saw a rapid decline for the former Manchester United star, and after openly criticising Thomas Tuchel’s tactics, he was frozen out of the first-team picture with Kai Havertz instead preferred up front by the German.
A loan switch back to Inter was sanctioned last month, with many criticising the Blues for their transfer dealings by naming Lukaku as one of the worst deals in their history – understandably so given the financial aspect.
But Conte, who won Serie A with Lukaku being one of his key players at the San Siro club in the 2020/21 season, still thinks his arrival at Stamford Bridge was a good signing – and backed him to do well in the Italian top-flight on his return.
“We are talking about a big amount of money for a player and I think we are talking about a really important striker in the world,” Conte told the Telegraph.
“But sometimes a situation outside of football happens and I think Romelu lived two years in Milan and he was the king. The fans showed him a lot of passion and I think he’s a guy who needs this. And for this reason, I think he wanted to go back to Milan.
“But, for sure, the signing was a good signing for Chelsea. Then, you know very well there are players that need more time to make an impact.
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“He has the potential to play in the Premier League. I remember very well when he started to play last season, he played really well and you in the media said Lukaku is really strong.
“A lot of things can happen for the confidence to drop. Now it’s right for him to play for an important club in Italy to try to get again confidence in himself. But we are talking about a really important, a really good striker.”