zenduck.me: Inter Milan switch transfer focus from Romelu Lukaku to Folarin Balogun

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Inter Milan are seriously exploring a deal for £50m-rated Arsenal forward Folarin Balogun after dropping their interest in Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku spent last season on loan at Inter, helping the Italian side to win the Coppa Italia and reach the Champions League final. However, his hopes of sealing a permanent move back to the club he played for between 2019 and 2021 have been ended by Inter’s decision to move onto other striker targets.

Inter see 22-year-old USA international Balogun as one for the future, although no formal offer has yet been made for the player, who flew out to the States for Arsenal’s pre-season tour on Sunday.

When asked about Balogun’s future, Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta said: “we will see what happens.”

Meanwhile, Chelsea now have two serious bidders for Lukaku.

Juventus have held talks and are prepared to pay 40m Euros, including add-ons. However, any bid is likely to depend on them selling Dusan Vlahovic.

Lukaku’s other option is Al Hilal, although it’s though his preference at this stage is to remain in European football.

He is not expected to go on Chelsea’s pre-season tour of the US.

‘Lukaku’s situation at Chelsea is very messy’

Sky Sports News chief reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

“It’s a very messy situation. He’s due back at Chelsea on Tuesday to train at Cobham, the first-team squad will already have left for their US pre-season tour. In an ideal world, his future would’ve been resolved and sold by now without the need for him to come back.

“Inter Milan have made a couple of bids to sign him, and over the weekend our colleagues at Sky in Italy were reporting that Inter had decided to pull out of negotiations to sign him, because they’d found out he had been in talks to move to their great rivals Juventus.

“At the moment, Juventus are the favourites to sign him. I think he would cost around £35m.

“He does have an offer from Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia as well, but I don’t think he’s ever going to play for Chelsea again and they’ve already done some very good business this summer, they want to sell Lukaku as well – but their valuation has to be met.”

Chris Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill have a rule when it comes to young recruits. “We try not to take anybody on their first loan,” Knill says. The reason? “It’s always such a learning period.”

Balogun in action for boyhood club Arsenal

But when Folarin Balogun became available during their time in charge of Middlesbrough in the Championship in 2022, they knew they had to make an exception. Some players are too good to turn down. “He was just such a talent,” adds Knill.

Middlesbrough did not see the full extent of that talent in the end. Balogun, although prolific in Arsenal’s academy and with England’s youth teams, would depart the Riverside Stadium having only scored three times in 18 Championship appearances.

But even then, after an awkward introduction to senior football and before his stunning, 21-goal campaign on loan at Reims, there was little doubt about the direction in which he was heading…

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 14 and closes at 11pm on September 1 in England and midnight in Scotland?

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our dedicated Transfer Centre blog on Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up with the ins, outs and analysis on Sky Sports News