Tottenham Hotspur manager, Antonio Conte, has claimed Romelu Lukaku needed to return to Inter Milan to feel like a “king” again.
However, Conte insisted that the 29-year-old striker could still thrive in the Premier League.
Lukaku rejoined Chelsea last summer in a club-record €115 million deal after two hugely successful years in Italy under Conte’s management, scoring 64 goals in 95 games and helping Inter end an 11-year wait for a Serie A title.
However, Lukaku struggled to settle in England as head coach Thomas Tuchel increasingly favoured Kai Havertz as his central striker, ending his sole campaign at Stamford Bridge with eight league goals in 26 appearances.
Lukaku credited Conte with developing his game while putting him on a “Bresaola diet” — which includes banning fried food and eating more white meat — to help him become physically leaner and stronger.
Asked whether he was surprised Lukaku’s move to Chelsea did not work out, Conte said: “We are talking about a big amount of money for a player and I think we are talking about a really important striker in the world, but sometimes happens a situation outside of football.
“I think Romelu lived two years in Milan and he was the king, no? He was the king and the fans showed him a lot of passion, affection. He is a guy who needs this and for this reason I think he wanted to come back to Milan.
“For sure, the signing was a good signing for Chelsea. You know, there are players who need more time to become effective, no? But for sure, he was a good signing for Chelsea.”