Inter CEO Beppe Marotta has suggested Romelu Lukaku left the club to rejoin Chelsea in order to double his wages, believing free transfer Edin Dzeko to be a more than worthy replacement.
Having publicly stated his desire to remain in Milan earlier in the summer, Lukaku eventually sealed a return to Stamford Bridge in August for a cool £100m.
That left the Nerazzurri needing a replacement striker, and they pipped for 35-year-old Dzeko – who signed a two-year deal following the expiration of his contract with Inter’s Serie A rivals Roma.
Although it may only be for the short-term, it has proven to be a shrewd piece of business amid the financial crisis at Inter. The incoming funds from Lukaku’s sale have been banked, while Dzeko has hit the ground running at San Siro – contributing to ten goals in 11 appearances so far this season.
Meanwhile, after a fast start Lukaku is struggling at Chelsea, failing to score in his last seven appearances before picking up an ankle injury.
Speaking to Corriere della Sera, Marotta claimed there was not much between the two players – despite the age difference and disparity in cost – and suggested Lukaku may have returned to west London for the money, lamenting the financial strain on Serie A clubs following the coronavirus pandemic.
“Lukaku was sold for €115m and we bought Dzeko for free. On the pitch, there isn’t much difference.
“Lukaku left to double his salary, in Italy these figures can’t exist.
“Today, we can’t make important investments, I wouldn’t be allowed to sign Lukaku for €75m. We need reduced and specific investments.”
Although Lukaku is a boyhood Chelsea fan and felt he had unfinished business at Stamford Bridge, his wage is believed to be more than £300,000-per-week in west London, having been around half that in Italy.
Wing-back Achraf Hakimi was also sold to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer for £54m, and Inter may well be forced to offload a number of players in January too.
Asked whether Inter would be forced to accept a big-money offer for another of their star names if one arrived, Marotta added: “The player’s desire is always crucial, as a manager I am not worried about selling, but about buying.
“Right now, there isn’t any club in Italy that can offer a huge salary to a player.”