Mauricio Pochettino is one step away from being announced as Chelsea’s new permanent manager, and with that comes second chances for players whose future at the club is touch and go.
The former Paris Saint-Germain manager will oversee a summer clear-out with the Blues keen to trim the size of their bloated squad.
Romelu Lukaku is one of several players who could leave Stamford Bridge this summer. But reports suggest the striker will be offered a chance to revive his Chelsea career under Pochettino.
Lukaku has spent the season on loan at Inter Milan after falling out with former boss Thomas Tuchel during his first season back at the club.
However, the Belgian’s time back at the San Siro has been derailed by injuries and inconsistency, leaving the Nerazzurri hesitant about making his stay permanent.
While their reluctance could prove a problem for Chelsea as they seemed the only club willing to take the striker off their hands, it could yet work in favour of the Blues moving forward.
Chelsea are in the market for a new striker with Harry Kane and Victor Osimhen linked, but they must shell out at least £100 million to snap up their top targets.
Lukaku’s return to Chelsea could eliminate the club’s need to splash the cash on a new striker and instead invest that enormous amount into other areas of the squad that require reinforcement.
However, whether he can thrive under Pochettino’s stewardship as Kane did remains a lingering yet unanswered question.
There is no doubt Lukaku is one of the best goalscorers in Europe – or at least he was before making a big-money return to London in 2021.
The 29-year-old did not fit into Tuchel’s system, but posting just eight goals in 26 Premier League appearances showed signs of a player bereft of confidence – although he started just 16 games.
A return to familiar territory was supposed to help the Belgium international revive his career, but only recently has Lukaku shown signs of a striker once feared across Europe.
Lukaku lacks Kane’s ability on the ball but can be a prolific scorer when he is in top form.
Kane scored an eye-watering 169 goals in 242 games for Tottenham Hotspur under Pochettino’s tutelage, winning the Premier League Golden Boot twice in 2016 and 2017.
The Englishman beat Lukaku – who was at Everton at the time – to the punch in 2017, scoring 29 goals, while the Belgian posted 25.
If Lukaku can rediscover his famous goalscoring form, he could thrive under Pochettino, with his sometimes underwhelming on-the-ball ability swept under the carpet.
Pochettino to Chelsea done deal?
According to talkSPORT, the 51-year-old has verbally agreed to take the job but will begin his regime this summer with interim manager Frank Lampard set to see out the rest of an abysmal campaign.
The former Tottenham manager will undoubtedly get some stick from some sections of the Chelsea faithful for his previous affiliation with the club’s local rivals.
However, he could be what Chelsea need regardless of the lengthy period he spent without a job following his departure from PSG.
From the bloated squad to wasted transfer funds and a lack of identity, Pochettino’s potential Chelsea takeover has some eerie similarities to what he walked into at White Hart Lane in 2013.
He should have no problems steadying the sinking ship at Stamford Bridge.
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