- Lukaku offered mega deal at Al-Hilal
- Could join Ronaldo & Benzema in Middle East
- Due to return to Chelsea after Inter loan spell
WHAT HAPPENED? The Chelsea striker, who spent the 2022-23 season on loan at Inter, visited Saudi Arabia on Monday to meet with Al-Hilal officials, GOAL has learned. The Saudi club have offered Lukaku a two-season contract worth a grand total of €50 million (£43m/$54m).
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Lukaku is due to return to Chelsea now that his loan deal with Inter has expired. It has been reported that the Italian giants do not have the necessary funds to sign him outright, and new Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino is said to be ready to give the striker another chance at Stamford Bridge. However, GOAL can confirm that Lukaku is very much open to a switch to Al-Hilal. The 30-year-old will first try to squeeze an even larger salary out of the club, though, as he wants to be rewarded handsomely if he is to turn his back on European football.
AND WHAT'S MORE: Al-Hilal will have to enter into direct negotiations with Chelsea if they strike an agreement with Lukaku. The Blues are open to a sale as they seek to trim their squad ahead of the new season, but will ask for a fee in excess of €50 million. GOAL understands that Al-Hilal are reluctant to pay that much for Lukaku, but they will be receptive to a potential compromise with Chelsea in order to push a final deal over the line.
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WHAT'S NEXT FOR LUKAKU? The Chelsea forward has expressed his desire to remain at Inter, who reached the 2022-23 Champions League final only to lose 1-0 against Manchester City, but it appears unlikely that the Italian giants will be able to keep him for another year. The lure of riches in Saudi Arabia could prove too strong for Lukaku to ignore, with Ronaldo paving the way for more high-profile stars to play in the Middle East after his record-breaking switch to Al-Nassr in December. Ronaldo's former team-mate Karim Benzema has since left Real Madrid to join Al-Ittihad, with Chelsea's N'Golo Kante also set to complete a move to the Saudi Pro League champions.