Inter Milan are weighing up a move for Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun after they pulled out of the race to sign Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, according to transfer expert Fabrizio Romano.
The Blues have been trying to offload Lukaku all summer with the Belgium international surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge.
After re-signing for Chelsea in 2021 from Inter Milan in a deal worth £97.5m, Lukaku only scored eight Premier League goals before being sent back on loan to Inter Milan last season.
Chelsea had found an agreement worth €35m plus add-ons with Inter Milan this summer – but the Serie A side have now pulled out of the deal after finding out Lukaku had been having talks with Italian rivals Juventus.
And now Romano has revealed all the details of the failed negotiations for Lukaku, as well as news of Inter Milan’s interest in Arsenal striker Balogun, who was on loan at Reims last term.
Romano wrote in his Caught Offside column: “It’s important to clarify the shocking situation regarding Romelu Lukaku. The deal between Inter and Lukaku is 100% off – this is the situation at the moment, with Inter now exploring different options.
“Lukaku shocked Inter and left them furious when they found out that the people close to him were also negotiating with Juventus. Inter did their best for Lukaku in a difficult moment in his career, re-signing him from Chelsea for a big loan fee and paying his big salary, and doing their best to support him when he was injured.
“Inter were on the verge of reaching an agreement with Chelsea for Lukaku – it was an agreement worth €35m plus add-ons, it was almost imminent with Inter ready to submit their final bid and Chelsea ready to accept. Then Inter found out about the Juventus talks and decided to leave the negotiations.
“Folarin Balogun is one player Inter appreciate – they want to understand Arsenal’s price tag. It’s nothing concrete yet, and Inter have other names on their list, but he’s a player they appreciate and so they want to know what Arsenal’s fee will be. The discussion will take place and sources expect it will be around €40m.
“Lukaku is now expected to return to training with Chelsea, but not to go on their pre-season tour. Mauricio Pochettino has not yet spoken to him, and the desire remains very clear on Chelsea’s side – they want him out.
“Chelsea have no other intention but to sell the player – they are not happy with him and they want him to leave. The two options for Lukaku are Saudi, with clubs there still insisting, and Juventus. Lukaku has said no to Saudi so far, while he’s spoken with Juventus and they have also sent a verbal proposal to Chelsea for €35m plus €2.5m add-ons. Juve are big candidates to sign Lukaku, but only if they sell Dusan Vlahovic.
“This makes it a complicated ‘domino’ situation, but I can say that, despite many rumours about Chelsea and Vlahovic, they are not negotiating for the Serbian striker – some members of the board appreciate him, but there is no concrete interest.
“The same with Lautaro Martinez – there are no talks, he will not be going to Chelsea. PSG, however, ARE considering a move for Vlahovic and the player is keen on the move. The two clubs have also had direct contacts, so next week PSG will decide internally about their top striker targets, as they’ve also considered Randal Kolo Muani and Rasmus Hojlund.”