Romelu Lukaku's lawyer has admitted that the striker 'suffered' at Chelsea after his unauthorised interview to Italian media, but insisted his contact with Inter did not start at that point.
Just a few months after his £97.5m return to Stamford Bridge, Lukaku went public with his frustrations towards manager Thomas Tuchel's system and he failed to redeem himself in the eyes of either the boss or the fans before jetting back to Inter on a one-year loan.
The Belgian then managed to attract even more fury from Chelsea fans by admitting that he had been in contact with Inter 'all season' about a possible return.
The now-infamous interview was an obvious turning point in Lukaku's Chelsea career, and lawyer Sebastien Ledure admitted it took its toll on the striker.
"This interview was from the heart and was perhaps awkward," he told La Libre. "It was an initiative that he took on his own and that he probably wouldn't take again.
"He suffered the consequences of this for the remainder of the season as it weighed down his daily work environment.
"But he quickly made it clear to me that, given he is 29 and at the peak of his career, he could not afford to lose another year. It's an open secret that he was not on the same wavelength as his coach.
"But the negotiations only started at the end of the season."
Ledure also admitted that Lukaku's return to Inter would likely not have been possible under the old Chelsea ownership.
"At first, nobody believed it was going to happen," he continued. "The question was: how can a player who was sold for more than €100m go back to the same club that says there is no money to take him back?
"On top of that, you should know that during the transfer last year, relations between the former management of Chelsea and the management of Inter were very tense.
"If there hadn't been a change of ownership at Chelsea, I doubt this deal would have been possible."
"Yes [Lukaku agreed to a salary cut]," Ledure added. "But much less than what the press says. I read that he cut his salary by a third or a half. It's not true. He's still the highest paid player in Serie A.
"All three parties made concessions which are smart. Our job was to get the best possible deal for my client, not for Chelsea or Inter. Romelu pays us, not the clubs."
A handful of other clubs were tipped to move for Lukaku this summer, but Ledure insisted Inter were the only side on the striker's mind.
"They were big clubs whose names I won't mention," the lawyer said. "But these leads were never really serious because Romelu decided very quickly that he wanted to go to Inter.
"He spoke several times with the Inter coach, as he had with [Antonio] Conte before signing for Inter in 2019, to make sure everyone was on the same page."
Finally, Ledure was asked about what the future holds for Lukaku at Chelsea. Inter's loan contract lasts just 12 months as Serie A rules forbid longer deals and there is neither an option nor an obligation for the Nerazzurri to make it permanent, although it is understood that both clubs are open to extending the deal in some way next summer.
"There will still be three years left on his contract [when Lukaku returns], " Ledure said. "But no one can say anything about that now."
Source : 90min