Romelu Lukaku open to Saudi Pro League move – sources

Romelu Lukaku has said that he is open to playing in Saudi Arabia — a year after he turned down a move to Al Hilal.

The 31-year-old’s future is uncertain once again as sources have told ESPN that Chelsea are keen to secure a permanent move for Lukaku after agreeing to loan the striker to Inter Milan and then Roma in the past two seasons.

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Lukaku earns around £325,000-a-week ($415,419) at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea are keen to remove that cost from their wage bill while raising funds for new signings.

The Belgium international has two years remaining on his Chelsea deal and the club are therefore reluctant to sanction a third loan move as they seek to recoup some of the £97.5m they paid Inter Milan in 2021.

Sources have told ESPN that Chelsea tried to agree a deal for Lukaku to join Al Hilal last summer, accepting an offer only for Lukaku to then reject the proposal.

However, Lukaku now believes the Saudi Pro League is thriving following the arrival of many big stars including Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Karim Benzema.

Asked why he hesitated last summer, Lukaku told HLN: “Because everyone only went to Saudi Arabia after I could sign there, I was scared for a while.

“[Now] Saudi Arabia would not stop me. The level there will only rise, to a much higher level than many people think. More and more footballers will tend to play there.

“Also because of how the fans there experience football. The infrastructure still needs to improve, but all the big top European clubs know: ‘Saudi Arabia is coming.’ You already see that in boxing, golf, Formula 1.”

Speaking about the possibility of a move this summer, Lukaku continued: “A lot of people like to talk, maybe because I don’t have an agent. But I’m going to decide. I control my situation myself.

“I am going to make a choice and once I will explain it, everyone is going to agree with me. Look, every time I decided to stay or leave somewhere, it turned out to be the right choice because of certain factors — for example my rapport with the coach”, Lukaku said. “It’s like a relationship with a woman. If it doesn’t click anymore, why stay together?”

Lukaku also reiterated he would like to end his career back in Belgium with Anderlecht, the club where he turned professional in 2006.

“It will happen,” he said. “And much earlier than many people think. I left Belgium when I was 18.”