If recent reports regarding his future turn out to be true, then Romelu Lukaku could well be set to renew his rivalry with long-time foe Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Serie A next season.
for Sky Sportsthe 29-year-old Belgian striker is on the verge of a return to his former club Inter Milan after a disappointing 2021/22 campaign with Chelsea.
The Blues paid Inter an eye-watering £ 97.5 million to secure Lukaku’s services for a second time less than 12 months ago. A return on their investment of just eight Premier League goals has almost certainly left Chelsea regretting their purchase.
For his part, Lukaku has made it clear for some months now that he wants to play at the San Siro again. Between August 2019 and May 2021, the frontman bagged 64 goals in 95 appearances for Inter.
However, Lukaku has never threatened to achieve anywhere close to that goalscoring ratio in west London, leaving Chelsea fans underwhelmed.
Another man who has never been overly impressed by Lukaku is AC Milan striker Ibrahimovic.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiz: How much do you know about the legendary striker?
Let’s face it – Zlatan is rarely complimentary about anyone other than Zlatan – and most definitely is not a fan of the Chelsea frontman’s abilities.
Critics of Lukaku have frequently slammed his poor first touch and general lack of ball control.
Ibrahimovic is probably the most high-profile of those critics, having warned Manchester United fans not to “expect proper technique” from Lukaku – while the pair were teammates at Old Trafford.
The giant Swede was at least willing to put his money where his mouth was, apparently in the name of motivating Lukaku to improve his skills.
Zlatan cheekily suggested he would financially reward Lukaku for “every decent first touch” he made, but was knocked back by the Belgian.
for GoalIbrahimovic recounted the story behind his offer.
At Manchester United, we made a bet: ‘I’ll give you £ 50 for every decent first touch you make’. He replied: ‘What do I win if I get them all right?’ I told him nothing, he would simply become a better player.
“For the record, he never accepted the bet! Perhaps he was afraid of losing… ”wondered Ibrahimovic.
Zlatan departed the ‘Theater of Dreams’ in March 2018, before Lukaku followed him out of the club just over a year later.
Come January 2021, though, the pair would find themselves calling the same city home, albeit on opposite sides of Milan’s footballing divide.
Sparks flew between the two former colleagues when they faced off during a Coppa Italia quarter-final between Inter and AC, after a cynical foul from Milan’s Alessio Romagnoli sent Lukaku into a rage.
Ibrahimovic was quickly on the scene and he and Lukaku soon had to be separated by other players as they furiously hurled insults at one another.
You can check out their heated exchange below.
Watch: Lukaku and Ibrahimovic engage in blazing row during the Milan derby
Lukaku and Ibrahimovic are choosing to cuss other out in English so you know it’s real… pic.twitter.com/XwNTWUgHOE
– Carl Anka (@ Ankaman616) January 26, 2021
Lukaku was on a plane to Stamford Bridge within seven months of this clash, denying fans the opportunity to see him and Zlatan go at it again.
If Lukaku gets the Inter return he so badly wants this summer, another showdown with Ibrahimovic would not shock anyone.
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