Chelsea missed Gary Neville’s hidden warning message over Romelu Lukaku after £97.5m transfer

Chelsea’s signing of Romelu Lukaku was backed to be a huge success, but it proved anything but, with the striker now back with Inter Milan.

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville’s comments about Romelu Lukaku should have served as a warning to Chelsea.

The Blues broke their transfer record to take Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge last summer, re-signing the Belgian from Inter Milan.

Lukaku initially had spells with Everton and Manchester United, but he did his best work in Italy, winning Serie A with Inter.

But his Chelsea return did not go to plan, with the Belgian initially impressing but going on to struggle in a Thomas Tuchel system he simply did not fit into.

Lukaku endured a frustrating spell at Stamford Bridge.

The 29-year-old started just 16 Premier League games, though he did manage a respectable 15 goals across all competitions.

‘Respectable’ figures are not what are expected for £97.5million, though, and Lukaku did not fit in working under Tuchel.

As a result, Chelsea have now sent Lukaku back to Inter on a loan deal, perhaps already hoping the loan spell will convince Inter to pay a significant amount to re-sign him next summer.

Few can say there were warning signs, with most pundits, including Neville, backing the transfer to work out following Lukaku’s form at Inter.

Neville was right about Lukaku and not even he knew it

But what Neville did say is that Lukaku is not a fit for some of the younger, successful managers in the game, and that issue is perhaps something Chelsea should have seen coming given Tuchel, although differing in style, does fit into that category.

Jurgen Klopp wouldn’t sign Lukaku in a million years. Neither would probably Pep Guardiola but Chelsea are the club that have had that type of striker,” Neville told Sky Sport’s ‘The Overlap’ podcast.

“A [Diego] Costa, a [Didier] Drogba, a single point striker, that physical presence that wants to carry that line. They’ve had that in their armoury for 20 years. It suits Chelsea Football Club. He wouldn’t press from the front so he’d never suit Jurgen Klopp.

“He would never suit Old Trafford. The fans up there need a personality upfront. [Edinson] Cavani suits Old Trafford. I know he’s probably past his best years but he works a lot harder than Lukaku off the ball.

“I’m not saying he’s better – Lukaku will score 25 goals for Chelsea but he doesn’t suit United. He wouldn’t suit Liverpool.”

Neville was certainly wrong about the last part, but his warning about Lukaku fitting into high-intensity, modern managers was certainly right.

The Sky Sports pundit himself, and indeed Chelsea, missed that warning, and it cost the Blues £90million.