Chelsea winded by Romelu Lukaku blow and Conte will demand answers | Dominic Fifield

The manager had pinned his hopes on Lukaku leading the line and the striker’s apparently imminent move to Manchester United raises questions about whether Chelsea have again taken their eye off the ball after winning the title

The first thing to acknowledge is that there is time for Chelsea to make a success of this transfer window. It is the first week in July, not the last in August. Those within the club’s recruitment department can justifiably point to the late arrivals of David Luiz and Marcos Alonso last year, and the impact both players had on the team’s title success, as evidence that significant additions can be plucked from the ether right up to the cut-off.

And yet, not for the first time, they have made a rather undistinguished start in attempting to capitalise upon their status as champions. Suggestions Romelu Lukaku is to break off from a holiday to undertake a medical overseen by doctors dispatched by Manchester United to the University of Los Angeles, such a favourite pre-season training haunt of José Mourinho’s teams over the years, left the forward’s suitors in London winded. Perplexed, even. All summer the assumption had been that the Belgian’s innate desire to return to Stamford Bridge would be key to securing the striker from Everton. But somehow, maybe as a result of complacency on Chelsea’s part, or possibly upon the advice and influence of the player’s agent, Mino Raiola, they have been bypassed.

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