Lukaku transfer snub has forced Conte to identify alternative striker
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte wants the Blues to pursue the signing of Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic, after Romelu Lukaku committed his future to Everton.
It was revealed on Saturday that the Belgium international is set to stay put at Goodison Park, after reportedly telling Ronald Koeman that he longer wants to leave the club this summer.
The news came as a big blow to Conte, who had made the 23-year-old his primary target for the summer – aiming to bring him back to Stamford Bridge after leaving the club in 2014 – and instead will now look to make a move for 30-year-old Mandzukic.
Although not as youthful as Lukaku, the Croatia international would cost around £25 million – a third of what Everton were demanding for the Belgium striker – which would be a significant £9 million increase on what Juventus spent on bringing him to Turin from Atletico Madrid, last summer.
Conte has already brought in Belgium striker Michy Batshuayi from Marseille, who netted his debut goal for the club on Saturday, and with Diego Costa seemingly set to stay put at Chelsea, Lukaku has seemingly reconsidered his chances of featuring regularly in the Blues’ starting line-up.
However, there is no questioning of his quality, having netted 18 league goals for the Toffess last campaign, and Koeman admitted it a big coup for the club to keep ahold of the player who they spent a then club record fee of £28 million to bring him to Goodison Park.
Yannick Bolasie’s recent £30 million arrival from Crystal Palace may have tempted Lukaku to stay, having seen the ambition the club have, to become a regular feature in Europe, over the next few seasons.
Meanwhile, Conte admitted after Saturday’s win at the Hornets that he desperately needs a new defender, also, with just five senior defenders within the squad.