Chelsea bought Lukaku, at the age of 18, from Anderlecht in August 2011 but he never settled at Stamford Bridge. He failed to make much of an impression on the first team in 2011-12, and was loaned out to West Bromwich Albion, where he scored 17 goals in 2012-13.
Lukaku started last season at Stamford Bridge but missed a decisive penalty in the Super Cup against Bayern Munich on 30 August, after which he asked to leave Chelsea. He was swiftly loaned to Everton, where he scored 16 goals.
Chelsea have made a profit on transfer fees for Lukaku and, while there might be some disappointment that he never became a first-team regular there, there was a sense at Chelsea that he put too much pressure on himself to succeed. The teenage Chelsea fan who idolised Didier Drogba was overcome by emotion when first shown around Stamford Bridge.
This is the latest move of a productive summer for Everton. They have also secured midfielder Ross Barkley to a new long-term contract and signed the Bosnia international midfielder Muhamed Besic from Ferencvaros for £4m. Gareth Barry, who was on loan from Manchester City last season, has signed a three-year deal.
Everton manager Roberto Martinez described the latest signing as: “Not just important for this season. It is a significant day in the history of this football club.”
Lukaku added: “I’m 21, I need to be playing in a good team. I needed to be in a place that felt right. I had a feeling that this was the best place for me to grow, so I’m happy to be here again.”
Lukaku can now focus, for the first time in three years, on a secure future at a club where he is the No 1 centre-forward. Everton will hope he can deliver on his promise as the club seeks to push for Champions League football.
Chelsea continue the changes to their squad which their manager, Jose Mourinho, hopes will take them to the Premier League title this season. Last season they had a very obvious problem up front, as Mourinho made clear. They could not match the firepower of Manchester City, who had Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo, or Liverpool, with Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez.
Chelsea have made attacking signings this summer, acquiring Diego Costa from Atletico Madrid for £32m as well as bringing club legend Didier Drogba back to Stamford Bridge, 10 years after he first signed from Marseilles. Cesc Fabregas has joined from Barcelona, to add creativity to midfield. Demba Ba has been sold to Besiktas, Samuel Eto’o has left the club and now Lukaku has joined Everton.
That leaves just one striker from last season left, Fernando Torres, whom Chelsea had been keen to move on because of the limited number of foreign players who can be registered for the Champions League.
Atletico Madrid, whom Torres left for Liverpool seven years ago, could well be interested in taking him back, even after signing Mario Mandzukic from Bayern Munich to replace Costa. Chelsea would be keen to do a deal, not least because of the suggestion all summer that Edinson Cavani, Paris Saint-Germain’s brilliant Uruguayan, might be attainable at the right price.