Romelu Lukaku’s loan return to Inter Milan is imminent and just one year after Chelsea paid £97.5m to secure his signature, he is now an expensive spare part they are looking to get rid of. The sheer size of that transfer fee, the second highest in Premier League history, raised eyebrows at the time given the Belgian’s failed spell at Manchester United, with only Jack Grealish’s move to Manchester City a more expensive deal.
But given the pieces Chelsea had to move to fund the deal, how much has it truly cost the club? The Blues shipped out nine players in total to raise the £98m needed to bring Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge, and one year on, some of their transfer values have increased drastically. We take a look at the four star academy players the Blues shipped out, and assess how much Chelsea truly paid for Lukaku.
Sold for: £36m
Current value: £55m
The biggest and most obvious departure from Chelsea last summer. Tammy Abraham had shown a huge amount of promise during his loan spells away and under Frank Lampard at Stamford Bridge, yet still the club took the decision to cash in on him for £36m.
12 months later, the 24-year-old has enjoyed a wonderful season with Roma, who won the inaugural Europa Conference League under Jose Mourinho. Abraham scored 26 goals in 52 games across all competitions and was an undroppable figure in the Italian capital. With four years left on his current contract, the bidding would start at £55m for one of Europe’s top young prospects.
Sold for: £26m
Current value: £50m
Given the central defensive crisis Chelsea now face, this transfer seems crazy on reflection. For just £26m they gave AC Milan one of their hottest prospects, who should make it into England’s World Cup squad, and is still only 24. His value has skyrocketed over the past sason, and he was a vital component as Milan won their first Serie A title since 2011.
There isn’t a team in the world that wouldn’t love Tomori in their squad, and Chelsea will be kicking themselves for letting him go. £50m is a conservative estimate of his current value, but Milan would want a whole lot more if they were to sell their star asset.
Sold for: £21m
Current value: £35m
If getting rid of one elite level English centre-back wasn’t enough, how about two? Marc Guehi left the club for Crystal Palace having shone at Swansea on loan and he has been a star at Selhurst Park. He’s broken into the England squad and like Tomori is in contention to go the World Cup in November, while his importance to Palace has also increased.
He helped them get to an FA Cup semi-final and enjoyed a successful season in the Premier League, and at just 21, his potential is gargantuan. Selling him was a huge mistake by Chelsea, and one they could rue for years to come.
Sold for: £5m
Current value: £30m
The biggest increase in value for one of Chelsea’s big sales last summer. Tino Livramento was sold to Southampton for just £5m and it has turned out to be one of the bargains of the century. He’s now 19, played 27 Premier League games last term and has established himself as one of the finest attacking right-backs in the top flight.
Chelsea are now reportedly in the market for a right wing-back, two centre-backs and striker. If only they’d had held on to this quartet of players, they would be in a much stronger place. Cobham is one of the finest academies in the country and yet, Chelsea are wasting their home-grown produce.
Victor Moses, Lewis Bate, Dynel Simeu and Ike Ugbo were also sold to raise the remaining cash, and Moses aside, all three have the potential to make Chelsea regret their sales, just as they did with Mo Salah and Kevin De Bruyne.
In total, Tomori, Guehi, Livramento and Abraham are now worth around £170m combined, just one year after they left Chelsea. Their sales funded the Lukaku move, but given the loss the club have made on the Belgian, this transfer goes down as the worst in Premier League history.