Thomas Tuchel says he is not happy with Romelu Lukaku after the striker expressed his displeasure with his situation at Chelsea, adding that the quotes “are not helpful”.
Lukaku – who joined Chelsea in a record club transfer in the summer – gave an interview to Heaven in Italy in which he said he was “not very happy with the situation” at Stamford Bridge, and complained about Tuchel’s decision to play “a different formation”.
The interview was taped earlier this month but posted on Thursday, just days before Chelsea take on Liverpool, live Sky Sports, in a huge showdown between the two sides trying to keep up with Manchester City in the race for the Premier League title.
Asked about his reaction to Lukaku’s interview, Tuchel said, “I don’t like it because it brings noise that we don’t need. It just isn’t useful.
“On the other hand, we don’t want to get any more out of it than it actually is. You know very well how it is: it’s very easy to take the jokes out of context. It’s very easy to shorten lines and make headlines, then realize it’s not. so bad and maybe that’s not what he meant.
“But let’s be honest we don’t like it.”
Tuchel also revealed that Lukaku did not tell him about his feelings before the interview was published and that he was taken aback by the striker’s apparent unhappiness.
“I don’t feel unhappy,” Tuchel said. “I feel exactly the opposite, that’s why it’s a surprise.
“But I’m the wrong person to ask.”
Lukaku’s comments were posted after a stint in which he scored three goals in four games for Chelsea, and appeared to be reintegrating into the squad after a spell on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
Tuchel said Lukaku’s feelings should have been dealt with “behind closed doors, for sure”, and when asked if the Belgian would speak with – and if he could also face disciplinary action – he replied: ” we will do and we will do it behind closed doors.
“We will do it openly, as I think the relationship has always been. There is no further public comment on this.”
In addition to Lukaku’s displeasure for his role in the team, Tuchel also had to deal with a series of absences from the team caused by Covid and injuries.
The head coach said after the draw against Brighton on Wednesday that it was “stupid” to think his side could compete for the title given their fitness problems and the fact that they are now eight points behind leaders City.
But while Tuchel admitted the team were “angry” at losing even more points, he dismissed any suggestion that Lukaku’s words might cause problems inside the locker room.
“The locker room is not necessary to always be in harmony,” he said. “It is not absolutely necessary to be successful.
“You don’t have to hug yourself, love yourself every single day. Sometimes it’s nice to be on the edge and be a little out of harmony, between certain boundaries.
“The problem with Romelu is that I don’t think anyone in this building is aware that he is unhappy, and that’s what makes us surprised by these claims.
“So first of all we have to check because I don’t see why it should be like this. Let’s wait what Romelu says and then we’ll deal with it.”
In his interview, Lukaku also talked about a return to Inter Milan, where he spent two years and won Serie A before returning to Chelsea for £ 97.5 million.
The 28-year-old apologized to Inter fans for the way he left the club and revealed his desire to rejoin the Italian champions while still playing at a “pretty good level”.
But Tuchel downplayed any suggestions that Lukaku might want to quickly return to the San Siro, saying, “This is what you read to us. I haven’t read it completely.
“It’s very easy to take the lines out of context and create headlines to get the best out of these interviews over several days.
“If he is an important player, I understand the process perfectly and that is why there is a lot more noise.
“We’re not just here to read the headlines and maybe we can take the time to try and figure out what’s going on.
“It does not reflect the daily work, attitude and behavior that Romelu displays here.”
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Analysis: What change is Lukaku referring to?
The Gerard brand of Sky Sports
Lukaku’s main concern seems to be a “different formation”, but it is difficult to understand which exchange the Belgian is referring to. When Lukaku joined Chelsea, Tuchel was immediately asked what this would mean for the 3-4-2-1 system which helped them get back into the top four and Champions League glory.
Tuchel said in August: “We now have the opportunity to play with two forwards, as they did at Inter with [Lukaku], or continue with three forwards. We will see now how it will turn out “.
Had Lukaku promised a consistent attacking mate Timo Werner, someone who would go deep and do the dirty work while working in key areas in the penalty area and on the defender’s shoulder? For Inter, Lukaku has had Lautaro Martinez or Alexis Sanchez at his side for practically the whole season, but for Chelsea that partnership role is not clear.
Lukaku and Werner have only started five times together this season, and only twice as traditional two up front. In the first of those two games, Lukaku and Werner were isolated in a 1-0 home defeat to Manchester City, and in the second they barely escaped Brentford with a 1-0 win. Elsewhere, in Lukaku’s absence, Werner had the opportunity to find the form, but he didn’t grasp it, and Tuchel more than often opted for the top three.
After returning from injury in late November, Lukaku only had minutes – eight against Man Utd, 21 against Watford, 45 against West Ham and three against Leeds – choosing to play a false nine to Kai Havertz in several occasions.
Tuchel will obviously claim he protected his £ 90 million signature upon his return from injury, but like any player, Lukaku wants to be on the pitch as much as possible. After the victory at Villa di Santo Stefano, he said: “I think today I needed a performance like this, it was difficult because every player wants to play. The coach has his reasons but I continued to work hard.”
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