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SPORTS UPDATE

DONE DEAL: Lukaku ‘seals his return to Inter Milan from Chelsea’

Romelu Lukaku’s highly-anticipated return to Inter Milan on loan this summer has reportedly been sealed after three-hour showdown talks with Chelsea on Monday.

The Belgian striker has not hidden his desire to move back to Serie A after a poor season with Chelsea, in which he scored just 15 goals in 44 appearances after he returned to Stamford Bridge in a deal worth £98.5million.

New Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly was convinced that Lukaku’s departure was best for all parties once the Belgian made it clear how determined he was to leave.

As Sportsmail previously reported, a video call between the two clubs was scheduled for Monday and now a deal is said to be on the brink of completion.

According to Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport, it took three hours worth of talks to come to an agreement but one has finally been struck.

It’s claimed Inter owner Steven Zhang has finally agreed to a loan package that is worth a £6m initial fee with an extra £1.7m in potential bonuses.

Sportsmail reported on Monday that Lukaku personally arranged his return to Inter by phoning manager Simone Inzaghi on his birthday and asking to come back to the San Siro.

It emerged in Italy that Lukaku took the lead in pushing through the comeback, bypassing even his agent Federico Pastorello, by picking up the phone to Inzaghi over two months ago.

It’s said the call took place at 8.30am on April 5 and after wishing the coach a happy 46th birthday, Lukaku reportedly asked: ‘Mister, what can I do to return to Inter?’

The conversation came the day before Chelsea played their crunch Champions League quarter-final, first leg against Real Madrid.

They lost the match 3-1, with Karim Benzema scoring a stunning hat-trick, and Lukaku wasted one of Chelsea’s best opportunities on the night as he headed wide when well placed.

Lukaku struggled to find his top form at Chelsea after the club record return there last August.

He stoked controversy back in December when, in an interview with Sky Italia, he admitted to ‘not being happy’ with his situation at Chelsea and criticised Tuchel’s tactics.

In the same interview, he expressed his desire to return to Inter ‘in the near future’, a wish that is now likely to come true.

Lukaku’s exit sharpens Thomas Tuchel’s need to find another goal threat and Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling is at the forefront of plans.

Chelsea have not made contact with City but, with one year left on his deal, they believe Sterling, 27, would be valued at around £55m.

City have been prepared for Sterling’s departure and will not stand in his way but Sportsmail understands he is still considering his options.

Chelsea are also keen on Robert Lewandowski but his desire to join Barcelona makes a deal unlikely. Red Bull Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku and Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele are options as well.

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