Inter Milan remain confident in striking a loan deal for Romelu Lukaku that could spark a forward line reshuffle at Chelsea, the PA news agency understands.
Chelsea are understood to be ready to allow £98million club-record recruit Lukaku to return to Inter this summer, but talks are thought to be continuing over the loan fee.
The Blues retain interest in Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, it is understood, with the England forward’s Etihad Stadium contract expiring in summer 2023.
Lukaku might have finished his maiden term at Chelsea as leading scorer, but the 29-year-old courted controversy on several occasions, most notably in an interview with Italian TV revealing unhappiness at Stamford Bridge.
Belgium hitman Lukaku issued a public apology to Chelsea fans in January after that interview had backfired.
But Chelsea’s new owners are thought to be prepared to allow Lukaku to head back to former club Inter, giving boss Thomas Tuchel the chance to reshape the Blues squad.
The 77-cap Sterling is understood to be open to leaving City, with a switch to childhood home London thought to remain appealing.
Sterling’s dynamism and movement would suit a Chelsea line-up seeking more fluidity from its forward line, though the Blues could also still look for a more direct replacement for Lukaku.
Chelsea’s new co-controlling owner Todd Boehly will replace Bruce Buck as Blues chairman at the end of the month, amid a raft of changes behind the scenes after the US magnate’s takeover with Clearlake Capital.
Consortium chiefs Boehly and Clearlake have had a hectic first few weeks at the helm, with plenty of administrative tasks to confront immediately.
The confirmation of the end of Buck’s chairmanship is expected to allow the Blues hierarchy to step up their transfer business.
But Chelsea are also never prone to move in haste, and are again thought to be prepared to stay calm while targeting a number of new arrivals.
Sevilla defender Jules Kounde remains ready to join the Blues, but Chelsea are yet to strike a deal with the Spanish club on a fee for the France international.