Chelsea: Tuchel could make £71m star his Lukaku replacement at Stamford Bridge

Thomas Tuchel taking charge of Chelsea during the FA Cup final

Chelsea are unlikely to sign a ‘like-for-like replacement’ for striker Romelu Lukaku this summer, according to journalist Dean Jones.

Lukaku is closing in on a shock return to Inter Milan just 12 months after he signed for the Blues in a club-record £97.5 million deal.

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Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano has revealed that a ‘full agreement’ has been reached between Chelsea and Inter, allowing Lukaku to re-join the Nerazzurri on a season-long loan deal.

That will leave Thomas Tuchel’s charges with Timo Werner and Armando Broja as their only recognised number nines, with the former often playing a supporting role and the latter making just one senior appearance for the Blues.

During his 18-month tenure, Tuchel has often selected to play attacking midfielder Kai Havertz at the top end of the pitch.

The Germany international has racked up 23 goals and 14 assists in his 92 appearances for Chelsea since joining for £71m, bagging the winner in the 2020/21 Champions League final, and could become the club’s main source of goals on a permanent basis.

What has Jones said about Chelsea?

In an interview with GiveMeSport, Jones said: “I don’t think we’ll see a like-for-like replacement happen here.

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“I don’t think that Chelsea are looking for a new Lukaku, but it’s interesting because when Lukaku came in, we were told that actually he did fit the bill a little bit because they wanted somebody that could set off play, that could act as a guy that brings in other players and then finishes off chances inside the box.

“Now that’s changing a little bit, and I’m not sure Chelsea are still looking for that profile a player, and maybe it means that Kai Havertz is the guy they’re looking for through the middle.”

Can Chelsea challenge with Havertz?

There is little denying Havertz is a top-class talent worthy of a place in Chelsea’s starting XI, and Tuchel’s previous comments highlight just how much he rates his compatriot.

“I am very pleased for Kai,” said Tuchel after he scored against Lille last season. “He really steps up. The effort is immense, the work rate is immense, the areas of the pitch he covers for us.”

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However, while Manchester City proved throughout 2021/22 that it is possible to be successful without a recognised striker, doubts remain over Havertz’s efficiency in front of goal.

The versatile star only found the back of the net on 14 occasions across his 47 appearances last term, one fewer than Lukaku, and it remains to be seen if Chelsea can challenge for the Premier League title without a more clinical marksman.

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