Romelu Lukaku has returned to Inter Milan on a season-long loan, just a year after leaving for Chelsea.
Chelsea paid Inter a club-record £97.5m for Lukaku, 29, last summer but, before Christmas, he said he was “not happy” and hoped to rejoin the Italian side.
Inter have agreed to pay a loan fee of about 8m euros (£6.9m) for Lukaku, who helped them win Serie A in 2020-21.
The Belgium striker was not a regular starter for Chelsea last season but scored 15 goals in all competitions.
It is understood Lukaku was willing to take a pay cut to seal a move back to Inter, but the club’s financial situation meant it was impossible for them to match his wages or buy the forward outright.
However, president Steven Zhang got involved personally in the negotiations last week, which was viewed as significant.
‘Like coming home’
In an interview with Inter TV, Lukaku said it was “like coming home” and he had been in contact with his new coach Simone Inzaghi “all last season”.
“Inter have given me so much and I hope now to do even better than before,” said the frontman, who scored 64 goals in 95 appearances during his first spell in Italy.
“I didn’t even leave my home when I went to England, which shows how happy I am to be back here.”
Asked what convinced him to return, Lukaku added: “The affection of the fans and my team-mates, but also the opportunity to work with the coach. I stayed in contact with him all last season.”
Lukaku, who left Chelsea to join Everton for £28m in 2014, returned to Stamford Bridge last summer on a five-year deal.
But after spells out with injury and illness, he was left out of the starting line-up and, in an interview with Sky Sport Italia, said he was not happy with his role under manager Thomas Tuchel.
After apologising for those comments, Lukaku returned to the Chelsea squad and scored only three times in his final 15 Premier League games of last term as the Blues’ season fizzled out.
Tuchel’s side finished third in the Premier League, while they were beaten by Liverpool on penalties in both the FA Cup and League Cup finals.
Inter finished second in Serie A last season, two points behind city rivals AC Milan. They are also in talks with Juventus forward Paulo Dybala.
The Argentina international, 28, is set to be a free agent when his contract expires at the end of the month.