Will Romelu Lukaku start for Chelsea against Crystal Palace? FPL tip for confused fantasy football managers

Striker Romelu Lukaku completed his £97.5 million transfer from Inter Milan to Chelsea this week ahead of the Premier League opening weekend

Romelu Lukaku completed a sensational return to Stamford Bridge just in time for the opening weekend of the 2021/22 Premier League season.

Chelsea, who the Belgium striker first played for 10 years ago, forked out a whopping £97.5 million to secure his services from Italian giants Inter Milan.

The fee makes Lukaku, 28, the most expensive footballer in the history of the game for combined transfer fees paid - higher than Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Chelsea, Everton, Manchester United, Inter and Chelsea (again) have paid a total of £285m for Lukaku in transfer fees alone, clubs have paid £276m for Neymar and £198m for Ronaldo.

Such large sums of money surely dictate his position as one of the key players for Chelsea this season - but will Lukaku start for Thomas Tuchel’s Blues against Crystal Palace on Saturday?

It’s the question on every Chelsea fan’s and Fantasy Premier League (FPL) manager’s lips.

Will Lukaku start?

The new Premier League season kicks off on Friday 13 August when Arsenal travel to top flight newcomers Brentford in the 2021/22 curtain raiser.

Chelsea fans will have to wait until 3pm on Saturday 14 August before their team begin the new campaign when Crystal Palace visit Stamford Bridge.

Yet all the talk pre-match is dominated by the transfer of Lukaku to Chelsea and if the Belgian will play a part in the opening match of the new season.

Every manager wants to get off to a good start in Gameweek 1 and to do that you want as many players as possible on the pitch earning you and your team points.

Reports midweek led fans to believe that the paperwork from the deal wouldn’t be finished in time for the Premier League’s Friday cut off ahead of Saturday games.

Yet Chelsea confirmed the transfer of Lukaku on Thursday night to throw FPL managers’ plans for the first gameweek into disarray.

And the striker has been added to the list of strikers available to select on the game’s database - priced at £11.5m but only selected by 8% of FPL managers to date.

So, will Lukaku play against Crystal Palace?

It seems unlikely that Lukaku will play a part for Chelsea against Crystal Palace on Saturday - less than 48 hours after the transfer was completed.

Lukaku only flew into London on Wednesday and has barely had time to find his wash bag before the weekend’s Premier League opener against Palace.

Chelsea are likely to have prepared all week on a certain system, personnel and formation.

Including Lukaku into the mix at the 11th hour could disrupt the team’s preparation and focus at the task in hand without the time to adjust plans before the big kick off.

Meaning, that even if the paperwork has all been sorted in time with the official administrations, there is a football aspect to consider if Lukaku is to be thrown into the mix.

Chelsea’s next Premier League game, against Arsenal on Sunday 22 August, has been earmarked as the match of Lukaku’s first match after re-signing.

Lukaku scored 113 goals in 252 Premier League appearances prior to his move to Italy where he scored 24 goals in Serie A last season to help Inter Milan to the league title.

What shirt number will Lukaku wear?

Chelsea are yet to confirm Lukaku’s shirt number for the 2021/22 season.

Lukaku has worn number nine for Manchester United and Inter Milan as well as national side Belgium, and wore number 10 for Everton during his time at Goodison.

Both numbers are currently taken at Stamford Bridge with Tammy Abraham holding the number nine jersey at present amid rumours of a move to Roma.

If the number nine doesn’t become vacant then it looks like Lukaku could wear No.18 - the same number he was given when he joined Chelsea from Anderlecht 10 years ago.