Even when he joined Manchester United it felt as if one day he might come back. From the outside looking in it might seem like there is nothing special about the relationship between Romelu Lukaku and Chelsea but it is real and it is strong.
Lukaku adores the club, he has done since childhood, with Didier Drogba his footballing idol. The fans love him too, it was clear how much he loved being a Chelsea player and the supporters embraced him for that. Since he has left that love has remained clear, and now he’s coming back.
And he is coming back to a team that are the current holders of the Champions League and now, with him leading the line and a full season of Thomas Tuchel, will be aiming for the league. Let’s get into it.
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Transfers In (major)

  • Marcus Bettinelli (Fulham, free)
  • Romelu Lukaku (Internazionale, £97.5m)
We’re including Lukaku here because at the time of writing he has landed in London and the deal is a formality. He is obviously the big one (although never rule out the importance of a backup goalkeeper at Chelsea…) and he will hopefully help Chelsea up their goal tally. Last season only Arsenal (8th) and Everton (10th) scored fewer goals than the Blues in the top 10. Chelsea very nearly missed out on the top four despite having the second-best defensive record in the division, they need more goals.
The other name to keep an eye on is Jules Kounde of Sevilla. It seems as if Chelsea have given up on signing Declan Rice so if anyone else comes in it will be Kounde. Clearly Tuchel feels he needs an upgrade in his three-man central defence, and a young upgrade at that. Price could be an issue so expect this to go to the wire.

'From now on it can only get worse' - Tuchel after meeting Abramovich

Transfers Out (major)

  • Marco van Ginkel (PSV, free)
  • Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan, £26.3m)
  • Victor Moses (Spartak Moscow, £4.5m)
  • Olivier Giroud (AC Milan, £900,000)
  • Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace, £21m)
  • Lewis Bate (Leeds United, £1.5m)
  • Tino Livramento (Southampton £5m)
This list could swell a lot between now and the end of the window. With new FIFA loan rules coming around fast, teams like Chelsea are going to have to make tough decisions about their hoards of young players (and old!). Marcos Alonso, Kurt Zouma, Ethan Ampadu, Malang Sarr, Baba Rahman, Davide Zappacosta, Matt Miazga, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Ross Barkley, Lewis Baker, Danny Drinkwater, Tammy Abraham, Michy Batshuayi, Kenedy and Charly Musonda could all move on, whether that’s on loan (with options to buy) or permanently.
Of course the real headline of Chelsea’s outgoings this summer has been the number of young English players moving on in search of regular football elsewhere. This was always going to be a problem for the Blues and their chickens continue to come home to roost despite the first-team successes of players like Mason Mount and Reece James. This group of departees won’t be the last.
Don’t count out the departure of Giroud either. His experience was crucial for Chelsea as well as his willingness to do the dirty work.

Key Man – Romelu Lukaku

Fairly obvious this one but, as we talked about above, Chelsea need goals. The back three is in a pretty good spot, even if Kounde doesn’t sign and with Jorginho, Kante, Kovacic, Mount and you’d imagine one or two of the returning loan players.
But Chelsea don’t have anyone who can do what Lukaku can do. Werner was meant to be that guy but he (quite literally) didn’t take his chances last season. If Chelsea are going to win the league they will need big performances from their new record signing.

Romelu Lukaku

Image credit: Getty Images

Young Star – Tino Anjorin

Chelsea are the hardest team to do this for because any player you pick might be sent out on loan next week. Case in point, Billy Gilmour and Armando Broja are already gone.
We’ve gone with Anjorin here, the 19-year-old attacking midfielder. He benefits from the fact that Chelsea aren’t trying to actively recruit in his position and it may even become less crowded if Hakim Ziyech departs. By all accounts Tuchel is enamoured with Anjorin, who is yet to have a loan spell away from Cobham and could look to keep him as a wild-card this season to rotate with Havertz, Mount, Pulisic and Werner behind the striker. Don’t forget of course that all those players bar Mount can be used as the forward as well so maybe there will be space for Anjorin.

Faustino Anjorin - FC Chelsea

Image credit: Getty Images

Breakout candidate – Kai Havertz

This might be a really weird pick given he scored the winner in the Champions League final but before that game against Manchester City there were actual debates about whether Chelsea should move on from Havertz. They weren’t totally unfounded either, Havertz had been very inconsistent for most of the season.

But under Tuchel we started to see the best of the German and with a full season to adjust to life in England we could be poised to see a new level from Havertz. That could be very scary for the rest of the league.

Kai Havertz of Chelsea celebrates after scoring their side's first goal during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on August 01, 2021 in London, England.

Image credit: Getty Images

Manager situation – Can do no wrong

It’s a tough act to follow a man as adored as Frank Lampard in west London but Tuchel is now right up there as one of the club’s favourite managers after his European success. Plus, unlike Lampard, there is a clear philosophy and plan with Tuchel that you can see on the pitch. It’s clear where he wants this team to go.
Of course any manager at Chelsea is only a bad month away from getting the boot and Tuchel will be no different, even though that Champions League win will give him a slightly longer leash.
Chelsea officials will hope, and probably brief privately, that this will be the manager who finally creates a dynasty. But we’ll wait and see on that one if it’s all the same to you.

Thomas Tuchel with the Champions League trophy (Chelsea)

Image credit: Getty Images

Prediction – Title challengers, not winners

This is hard because at the time of writing we don’t know what will happen with Harry Kane. If that transfer goes through it’s going to be really hard to bet against City, even if you suspect more of their attention will go on the Champions League.
However regardless, the gap between City and Chelsea will not be 19 points this season. Expect the Blues to run the Sky Blues far closer this season and for the first time in years there could be an actual multi-team title race. Chelsea will be part of that. Second.
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