ROME (Reuters) - Romelu Lukaku is a familiar face to Premier League viewers, but the player who completed a 97.5 million pounds ($134.7 million) return to Chelsea on Thursday is, by his own admission, not the same one who departed England two years ago.
“Italy has brought me to another level. I have never felt this strong. I have reached another level, physically and mentally,” Lukaku said in May.
The Belgian hit his peak during two years at Inter Milan after leaving Manchester United, and was central to the Italian club’s first Serie A title in 11 years last season.
In Italy, he has developed into one of European football’s most lethal and reliable goalscorers, while underlining his ability as a creator and a leader.
Antonio Conte was desperate to add Lukaku to his ranks after being named Inter coach in 2019.
The Italian would not take no for an answer, and eventually a club record 74 million pounds deal was agreed, paving the way for a relationship that got the best out of coach and player.