Romelu Lukaku returned to action with Inter Milan last night, in a friendly match against second division Reggina, playing most of the game and even finding the back of the net, which has given rise to some hopeful headlines in Italy, about a second half of the season revival for the Chelsea loanee. (And by extension, Inter themselves, who are chasing unbeaten league-leaders Napoli.)
Lukaku certainly could use one, having played just 256 minutes across five appearances so far this season, scoring as many goals (two) as hamstring injuries he’s managed to pick up. Combine that with the ultimate disappointment of Belgium’s golden generation flaming out once again at the World Cup in their last hurrah, and the new year takes on even greater significance. (The Serie A season resumes January 4.)
And that’s before we factor in his contractual situation. His loan to Inter is only for the season, without any further considerations at the moment. While it’s been assumed that Inter would be willing to do another loan for at least next season, understandably they’re in no hurry to do so. In fact, their next step would seemingly depend entirely on what happens in the second half of the season, with Corriere della Sera (via FC Inter News) not expecting any decision from Inter regarding Lukaku until the end of the season — and even if they do decide to renew the loan, they would probably want to do it at a lower cost.
Unfortunately, none of that should be surprising either, given the way the last 18 months have gone for Lukaku, Chelsea, and Inter themselves. Hopefully the 29-year-old striker will indeed rediscover his form from before, and we can all go our merry (and separate) ways.