Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola was one of the few names who didn’t seem entirely convinced about Romelu Lukaku’s transfer from Inter Milan to Stamford Bridge in the summer.
The Italian, who was a star player for the Blues in the early Premier League years, and who later formed part of their coaching staff, was quoted by Tuttomercatoweb (with translation by Sport Witness) as saying he wasn’t entirely sure about the widely-accepted narrative that his old club needed a new centre-forward due to the underrated work Timo Werner was doing for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
Lukaku was world class in his time at Inter and it’s easy to see why Chelsea brought him in, but it’s fair to say the Belgium international has been surprisingly poor so far this season.
It may be a surprise to us, but it seems Zola may have seen it coming as he went against the conventional wisdom to question the logic of the deal.
“Chelsea had an extraordinary season last year, but the focus was always on the fact that they lacked a goalscorer,” Zola said.
“They often created chances, and in some games, they were quite penalised. Lukaku comes in to fill that gap, but I liked Chelsea the way they were.
“Werner did a dirty job for everyone else, and the reason they won the Champions League is because he put others in a position to do well.
“I’m curious to see Lukaku, but I liked Chelsea the way they were.”
Chelsea lost 1-0 to Manchester City yesterday, with Lukaku singled out for criticism by Tuchel after the game.
“He had many ball losses without any pressure, many ball losses in very promising circumstances,” Tuchel told reporters, as quoted by the Daily Mirror.
“He had a huge chance. We want to serve him, but he is part of the team, and the performance up front, particularly in the first half, we can do much, much better.”