Chelsea told 'slimmer' Romelu Lukaku wants permanent Inter transfer & wouldn't fit Graham Potter's set-up
- Lukaku has struggled on loan at Inter
- £100m striker still contracted to Chelsea
- Henry coached star with Belgium
WHAT HAPPENED? Lukaku was initially left on the bench against Porto by Inter boss Simone Inzaghi, with the club's CEO Giuseppe Marotta saying that the Belgian "has 103 kg to carry on his shoulders, he must be physically fit" when discussing the decision before the round of 16 first leg clash.
Lukaku was introduced on 58 minutes and, late in the game, turned the Champions League tie in Inter's favour. He scored an instinctive rebound finish from his own header that had struck the post, and Henry was impressed with his overall contribution.
WHAT THEY SAID: "I am so happy for Rom," Henry, who coached Lukaku in his role as an assistant for the Belgium national team, said on CBS Sports. "He looks fitter, he looks slimmer, he wants it. I think he was disappointed that he didn't start. The only answer you can give is on the field, and he did that. Great header. The ball goes inside, great cross, that's what you do. You come on the field and try to make an impact to make sure you can ask your coach questions – 'next time am I going to be in the starting line-up?'"
Henry added on whether Lukaku will return to Chelsea when his loan deal at Inter expires this summer: "We had a discussion when he went to Chelsea, and I told him he's going to find it difficult to play at Chelsea. That happened to be the case, because of the way [Thomas] Tuchel liked to play. Pressing, you're the nine, I'm the nine, I'm the winger, you're the winger, you have to change. Rom likes to stay where he is. Feed him, play him in early, and he'll try to bully you.
"He was a different type of nine to what Tuchel wanted. Is he going to fit what [Graham] Potter's trying to do? They're struggling enough. And what does he want to do? I don't think he wants to go back. That's the main thing. He wants to stay at Inter."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Lukaku's struggles have been well documented and his weight has intermittently been criticised. After a successful move to Inter from Manchester United in 2019, he sealed a return to his old club Chelsea in a club-record deal in the summer of 2021. However, he returned a disappointing eight-goal Premier League tally last season and was shipped back on loan to Inter. Henry clearly believes the 29-year-old's long term future lies away from Chelsea, although it remains to be seen whether Inter would stump up the cash required to land him on a permanent deal.
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DID YOU KNOW? On Saturday, Lukaku scored his first Serie A goal in 189 days, in Inter's 3-1 win over Udinese.
WHAT NEXT FOR INTER? The Nerazzurri have Serie A games against Bologna, Lecce and Spezia before travelling to Portugal for the second leg of their last Champions League 16 tie.