Romelu Lukaku returned to Chelsea on Thursday for a reported club-record fee of £97 million ($135 million) from Inter Milan, seven years after his first spell at Stamford Bridge came to an end.
The Belgian striker was instrumental in securing Inter’s first Serie A title for 11 years last season, but the Italian giants financial problems forced them into selling their prized asset to the Premier League side.
Lukaku scored 64 goals in two seasons in Italy to quickly become a hero at the San Siro.
But the 28-year-old also has a proven record in the Premier League, scoring 113 goals during spells with Manchester United, Everton and West Brom.
The only blot on Lukaku’s career so far was his first spell at Chelsea as he failed to score in 15 appearances.
Signed as an 18-year-old as the apparent heir to Didier Drogba, Lukaku quickly grew frustrated at his lack of opportunities in the first team.
Drogba was the hero as Lukaku’s first season as a Chelsea player ended with them winning the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.
But he later stated he felt he played “no part” in that success due to his limited game time.
Prolific loan spells with West Brom and then Everton proved Lukaku’s ability to score goals in the Premier League before he made a permanent move to the Toffees in 2014.
After scoring 87 goals in three seasons with Everton, Chelsea came calling again but Lukaku instead joined Manchester United in an inital £75 million move.
Together they ended Juventus’ grip on Italian football, romping to Serie A last season by 12 points.
However, the financial problems of Inter’s owners the Suning Group, exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, have seen their rise quickly unravel.
Conte left the club in May, claiming the cost-cutting required would have prevented him building the team he wanted to challenge domestically and in Europe.
After lifting the Champions League last season, Chelsea are hoping Lukaku is the final piece required to make Thomas Tuchel’s side Premier League title challengers.
Jadon Sancho – Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United, £73m
A sum of £73million is a lot to part with for a 21-year-old, but the former Manchester City trainee has proven his credentials in the Bundesliga.
Sancho flourished with Borussia Dortmund and has shown not only does he possess the tricks and flicks, but he can score with regularity too and will link up with several England team-mates at Old Trafford.The winger has 22 England caps and his addition will strengthen United’s right wing as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team look to challenge for the Premier League title after finishing second last season, 12 points behind champions Manchester City.
Manchester City signed “natural talent” Jack Grealish on a six-year deal from Aston Villa for a British record fee reported to be £100 million ($139 million).
City confirmed Grealish will wear the number 10 shirt, which was recently vacated by the departure to Barcelona of striker Sergio Aguero
The fee shattered the previous British record of £89 million paid by Manchester United to sign Paul Pogba from Juventus in 2016.
City are reported to have activated a clause in Grealish’s contract that compelled Villa to accept their offer when it reached £100 million.
Grealish returned from holiday in Dubrovnik at the start of this week and resumed training while City hammered out the deal.
Having graduated from Villa’s youth academy, Grealish has spent his entire career at the club he supported as a boy, apart from a loan spell at Notts County in the 2013-14 season.
He has made 213 appearances for Villa since his debut in 2014, scoring 32 goals and laying on 43 assists.
Grealish, who had four years remaining on his Villa contract, scored six times in the league last season and provided 10 assists.
Ibrahima Konate – RB Leipzig to Liverpool, £36m
It was no secret Liverpool would be signing a new centre-back this summer after the defensive injury crisis which derailed their Premier League title defence last season.
Recruiting players who have learned their game within the Red Bull organisation has become a theme for Liverpool, but the Merseysiders need no extra reason to pursue Konate, of course.
This is a central defender of speed, strength and skill, who, at the age of 22, is ready to take the next step. Already there is excitement at the potential of a partnership with Virgil van Dijk.
The dethroned champions will understandably be cautious with Van Dijk as he steps up his comeback but it is still not yet know when manager Jurgen Klopp will clear him for Premier League action.
With the club also easing back fellow centre-half Joe Gomez, who sustained a season-ending knee injury in November, there appears to still be some way to go before the pair are passed fit for competitive duty.
It means the focus will be on new signing Konate hitting the ground running following his £36m move from RB Leipzig.
Klopp’s side won eight and drew two of their last 10 league matches to unexpectedly finished third having been seven points adrift of Champions League qualification in eighth in early March.
Konate can keep that momentum moving with some early commanding displays
Raphael Varane – Real Madrid to Manchester United, £41m
After visa delays, Raphael Varane is finally on the brink of becoming Manchester United player, and quite possibly ‘the missing piece to the jigsaw’ in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s defence.
The four-time Champions League winner could be a steal in a deal rising to £41m given his experience and class.
United have been in need of a centre-back to partner Harry Maguire for some time and have not only snapped up a serial winner but at the age of 28 there is still room for the France international to grow.
Gary Neville believes the imminent arrival of Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane at Manchester United is good news for the club.
Gary Neville told Sky Sports: “Varane is exciting. I think last season, every commentator, pundit, analyst and anyone who watched United said they needed a partner for Harry Maguire. They’ve got one now so for me it’s going to be an improvement on last season.
“Varane is a good age, he’s got massive experience and a good centre back alongside him and it’s a good back four. He’s not coming into a team where he’s going to have to hold it together.
“You’d argue he’s the last piece of the jigsaw in the sense that the rest of them are still doing a pretty good job. Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly both did good jobs alongside Harry Maguire but they weren’t that little bit extra that you need.
Albert Sambi Lokonga – Anderlecht to Arsenal, £15m
Lokonga became Arsenal’s second signing of the summer transfer window after Portuguese defender Nuno Tavares, who joined the Gunners from Benfica in a deal worth around £8m.
A Belgium U21 international, Lokonga received his first senior call-up earlier this year when he was an unused substitute against Greece, and Lokonga can bring added steel to the Arsenal midfield
It’s a big move for the 21-year-old, who made 78 appearances across 10 years for the Belgian club, where he played under former Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany. Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is excited by the midfielder’s potential, and it will take time for the youngster to adjust.
“It’s a big step, but I feel confident because we have to be,” the midfielder said. “In the football world, you have to feel confident about yourself, but I’m looking to play in this league and I can’t wait to start.”
When asked if he prefers to play as a box-to-box midfielder or in a more attacking role, Lokonga added: “I can play both. I can play as a six and I can play like a box to box, but people say that I’m better in the six position.”
Leon Bailey – Bayer Leverkusen to Aston Villa, £30m
Aston Villa are rebuilding following the sale of Jack Grealish for a British record transfer fee, with a chunk of the £100m spent on Bayer Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey.
The Jamaican winger scored 15 goals and 11 assists in all competitions for Leverkusen in the 2020/21 season as they finished sixth in the Bundesliga and qualified for the Europa League.
The 23-year-old has cost Villa a reported £30m on a deal running to 2025. “Leon is a hugely exciting young striker with great pace and creativity,” Villa boss Dean Smith said.
“He has enjoyed a successful career at Leverkusen and we are now looking forward to watching him show his skills and talents for Aston Villa in the Premier League.”
With Emi Buendia also joining from Norwich, Villa have plenty of creativity to fill the Grealish void.
Bryan Gil – Sevilla to Tottenham, £21m
It remains to be seen how Tottenham look to strengthen in the closing weeks of the summer transfer window given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding their talisman Harry Kane, but the club have already signed potential gem in Gil.
The Spain winger, who represented his country at the Olympic Games, joins from Sevilla with Argentine forward Erik Lamela moving in the opposite direction as part of the deal. Sky Sports understands the package cost Spurs around £21m.
The 20-year-old spent last season on loan at Eibar, where he scored four goals and registered three assists in La Liga as they were relegated after finishing bottom.
Speaking after signing, Gil said: “I’m very proud to join Spurs. To represent the badge of a world-class club like Tottenham and be able to play in the Premier League feels great. I’m coming to Spurs to win points and give everything in every minute.”
Michael Olise – Reading to Crystal Palace, £8m
Crystal Palace completed the signing of Reading forward Michael Olise for £8m in July.
The 19-year-old became Patrick Vieira’s first signing since becoming Palace manager and there are high hopes in South London for the precocious talent.
The attacking midfielder has been handed the No 7 shirt having played a major role for Reading last season, scoring seven goals in 46 games – a return which saw him named EFL Young Player of the season.
“It’s a great club and I’m very excited to be here,” the France Under-18 international said upon his arrival at Selhurst Park.
His playing style has been compared to Eberechi Eze, who will miss the first half of the season with an Achilles injury. This is a new era for Palace and Vieira will look forward to eventually combining the pair with Wilfried Zaha, spearheading the Eagles attack this season.