Whether or not it was solely down to Jose Mourinho’s poor judgement, it is abundantly clear that Chelsea made a grave mistake letting Romelu Lukaku join Everton. But that shouldn’t prevent the Blues from making an expensive u-turn.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Mourinho’s fingerprints were all over the ill-fated decision not to write a buy-back clause into the Belgian forward’s Everton contract when he left London for Goodison Park two years ago.
Instead, the paper claim the Portuguese commanded the Blues to simply recoup the biggest possible fee they could up front and £28m was duly handed over.
That figure, although a record-smashing one from an Everton perspective, now looks a bargain.
The Merseyside club now value their top scorer at £65m after another prolific showing from Lukaku in 2015/16.
Whatever caused Mourinho’s lack of faith in the young striker, still only 23, the Special One’s assertions proved to be grossly miscalculated, as Lukaku’s strike-rate of a goal every 1.9 games for Everton make plain.
Now, as reports surface that the player could be interested in a shock return to Stamford Bridge with ‘unfinished business’ on the agenda, incoming manager Antonio Conte and owner Roman Abramovich have a pivotal decision to make.
Ignoring Lukaku’s advances and saving face is certainly one option. However, it is arguably the wrong one, even in spite of what could be a record-breaking fee for Chelsea.
The Abramovich era has been brutally pot-marked by rueful transfer decisions; Fernando Torres, Daniel Sturridge and Kevin De Bruyne stand out, but at the end of the day public opinion isn’t as important as having the best players.
Lukaku’s goals alone mark the left-footed centre-forward out as one of the Premier League’s classiest operators, even before taking his often unplayable displays into account.
After suffering such an inglorious slide in to mid-table having been crowned champions just months before, the Blues are in need of revitalising a complacent squad who’ve rested shamefully on their laurels.
If it means Abramovich dipping in his near limitless reserves and a little bit more egg on the face, that will all be washed away if the good times roll back into town with the Belgian, who has a scary amount of years still ahead of him at the top level.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.