Everton forward Romelu Lukaku is reportedly high on the transfer wishlist of Antonio Conte, who was announced on Monday as the new Chelsea head coach for the start of the 2016-17 campaign, per the Blues' official website.
That's according to Mark Ogden of the Independent, who reported Conte wants the Blues to bring Lukaku back into the fold just two years after selling the Belgium international to the Toffees.
The 22-year-old has since developed into one of the world's best young strikers and has already scored a remarkable 18 goals in the Premier League this season, per WhoScored.com.
As shared by Sky Sports News HQ, he and his father have both hinted at a move:
Conte's reported interest in the Belgian shouldn't come as a surprise. Back in 2014, before the youngster moved to Everton, the incoming Stamford Bridge boss quit Juventus after he and the club board couldn't come to an agreement on the Bianconeri transfer policy, amid rumours the Italians decided against pursuing Lukaku more strongly, per Ben Jefferson of the Daily Express.
Lukaku later admitted Juventus did make an approach, but he chose Everton because it was the perfect place for him to develop, per the Sunday People (h/t Goal's Liam Twomey).
That decision turned out to be the right one. While Juventus eventually got their man in Alvaro Morata, Lukaku became Everton's ace striker and developed into one of England's most feared target men.
Blessed with tremendous raw power, pace and strong instincts inside the box, the Belgian is a nightmare for most defenders.
While consistency can be an issue at times, it's easy to forget he's still just 22 years old, and when compared to some other great forwards, his numbers look incredible, per BreatheSport:
According to Ogden, Conte wants Lukaku to compete with or replace current Chelsea striker Diego Costa, which is ironic, considering Lukaku left the club because he feared for his playing time when the Spain international arrived back in 2014, per Jefferson.
Conte rose to fame as a manager by taking over smaller, struggling clubs in Italy and turning their fortunes around, accomplishing the feat with Bari and Sienna. He caught the eye of Juventus, who had just finished back-to-back Serie A campaigns in seventh place and needed someone capable of dealing with such a project.
Chelsea find themselves in a similar situation after a dreadful 2015-16 campaign, so it's worth taking a look at the changes Conte made when he first started at Juventus.
David Amoyal, a translator for Gianluca Di Marzio, outlined how he approached the transfer market:
Conte discussed his transfer market mantra in his autobiography “Testa, Cuore, Gambe" ("Mind, Heart, Legs")- he went into great detail on how he collaborated with Juventus sporting director Paratici as well as executive director [Beppe] Marotta. Conte often scouted players with Paratici, he described a Switzerland match in which they went to see Lichtsteiner and Inler in person.
Conte was very impressed by Lichtsteiner, but felt that Inler was too similar to Pirlo (a player Juve had already signed) so he made his recommendations to Marotta who then closed the deal with Lazio.
Conte is a solid tactician, but his biggest strength has always been his ability to motivate, and for that he needs the right kind of player.
He values the work rate of his strikers above all else, even their ability to score goals, and he was not afraid to stick with forwards like Mirko Vucinic and Alessandro Matri over more prolific options.
Costa would certainly fit the bill―the Spain international is a tough, hard-nosed player, exactly the kind of piece Conte likes to work with.
France Football (h/t Mark Brus of the Metro) said the former Atletico Madrid man has been offered to Paris Saint-Germain and back to the Vicente Calderon side, but it's hard to believe Conte would sanction a sale without getting the chance to work with him first.
But the Italy boss also likes options and depth, so expect him to add at least one striker to the squad this summer. Per Ogden, Everton will do everything possible to keep hold of Lukaku, but an offer of more than £50 million would be difficult to pass up.
According to Le10Sport (h/t TalkSport), PSG's Edinson Cavani is another option for Chelsea. The Uruguay international is expected to leave Ligue 1 at the end of this season, and Conte is very familiar with El Matador thanks to his time in Serie A.