Atletico Madrid are very close to sealing the arrival of Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea, recent transfer speculation suggests.
Reports that surfaced in the English media earlier on Thursday had claimed that the reigning La Liga champions were keen to reignite their interest in the £25 million-rated Belgian and compatriot Thibaut Courtois and now, according to Spanish daily El Confidencial, Atletico have closed a deal for Lukaku in time for next season and are just waiting for the finishing touches to be applied before an official announcement can be made.
Indeed, the same source goes on to further state that the deal is part of several operations between the two clubs, with Chelsea having already agreed the signing of Brazilian-born Spanish international Diego Costa for a fee in the region of £32 million and also believed to harbour a keen interest in signing left-back Filipe Luis.
Tiago Mendes - who spent a solitary season at Stamford Bridge during manager Jose Mourinho's first spell in charge of the club - is also expected to join Chelsea on a free transfer soon, with Atletico seemingly powerless to prevent the dismantling of a stellar squad that shocked the entire continent with their exploits last season.
While Lukaku - with his pace, physicality and reliable eye for goal - should prove capable of plugging the void left at the Vicente Calderon by Costa's absence in the short-term, Chelsea's fans will presumably be hugely disappointed to once again see the gifted 21-year-old depart without being given sufficient opportunity to prove he is capable of holding down a regular place under Mourinho.
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Quite simply, many must be wondering just what more he has to do to prove himself worthy. After dazzling during consecutive loan spells with Premier League rivals, Lukaku has shown beyond any considerable doubt that he has more than enough talent and ability to succeed at the top level - yet still it appears that he will not be given the chance to succeed with his parent club.
Disappointment for Everton
If indeed Atletico are set to announce the signing of Lukaku, Everton - along with a large section of the Chelsea support - will presumably be the most disappointed party as the player - who spent the entirety of the 2013/14 season on loan at Goodison Park and notched 15 goals in 29 Premier League games - had recently become their top summer transfer target.
Roberto Martinez clearly had not given up hope of securing a permanent deal for Lukaku - somewhat unsurprising given the rather effortless way he had fit into the Spaniard's fluid set-up over recent months.