MAURICIO POCHETTINO has poured cold water on the opportunity for Romelu Lukaku to reignite his Chelsea career.
Blues boss Poch has left several key names out of his 29-man US touring group this pre-season as he continues his epic squad tweak in west London.
He has accompanied a mass exit this summer with ELEVEN departures so far including Mateo Kovacic, Mason Mount, N’Golo Kante, Kai Havertz and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, as well as Christian Pulisic, Cesar Azpilicueta, Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy.
Meanwhile, Lukaku, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi continue their summer training in England and are expected to leave the club.
After arriving at Stamford Bridge, Poch revealed he wanted Lukaku to arrive in time for pre-season ahead of talks about his future at the club.
However, it now seems that Lukaku will play his football outside of Chelsea next season, with the two Serie A giants Inter Milan and Juventus linked.
When asked about his decision to leave Lukaku and his three teammates at home, Poch explained: “It’s up to the club and of course it’s an interesting situation.”
“If that kind of decision is made [made, it is] because everyone agrees. The player and the club are working hard to find the best solution.”
Poch continues: “It is obvious that the decision was also made on the part of the player. We act according to the decision. The club and the players are in the position they wanted.”
Lukaku – who joined Chelsea from Inter in the summer of 2021 for a club record £97m – is determined to return to Italy, where he spent last season on loan at the Nerazzurri, scoring 14 goals in 37 games and reaching the Champions League league finals.
Chelsea were initially interested in releasing Lukaku to the Saudi Super League alongside former stars like N’Golo Kante, Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy.
However, despite the hefty salary increase, Lukaku has no interest in playing in Saudi Arabia.
Poch will also have to make a decision on defender Levi Colwill, who was on loan at Brighton last season and is being wanted back by the Seagulls as a £30million offer was recently rejected.
Wesley Fofana’s recent cruciate ligament surgery has left the Argentina coach behind and he has made it clear he expects Colwill to fight for his place rather than leave.
Poch said to Colwill: “We talked. It was a nice conversation. It’s important that you know us.
“Knowing what we think, seeing the competition is going to be tough but also fighting and knowing they can be in the starting XI because football is about competition.”
“They understood and we understood what they wanted to translate for us. Everything is clear and we are happy with all the players we have in the US.”