Romelu Lukaku has been dropped by Thomas Tuchel from Chelsea’s match day squad for the key Premier League showdown with Liverpool today, reports suggest.
he Athletic were first to report that record signing Lukaku will not even make the bench for an important fixture at Stamford Bridge, the losers of which will see their title hopes left in tatters.
Sources close to Chelsea’s record signing feared last night that he would be dropped after incurring manager Tuchel’s wrath thanks to an explosive, unauthorised interview with Sky Sports in Italy in which he revealed his frustration with life at Stamford Bridge.
In an interview that was conducted several weeks ago but only released in recent days, Lukaku admitted his frustration at the way he was being used by Tuchel after his recovery from an ankle injury.
“Physically I’m fine, even better than before,” he said. “After two years in Italy, in which I worked a lot at Inter with trainers and nutritionists, I am physically fine.
“But I’m not happy with the situation, this is normal. I think the coach has chosen to play with another system, I just have to not give up and continue to work and be a professional.
“I am not happy with the situation, but I am a worker and I must not give up.”
Tuchel described those comments and the resulting speculation as “unhelpful” at his pre-Liverpool press conference on Friday and said he would hold talks with Lukaku.
“We don’t like it, of course, because it brings noise that we don’t need and is not helpful,” Tuchel said. “But on the other side, we don’t want to make more out of it than it actually is.
“You know very well how it is, it’s very easy to take lines out of context, to shorten lines to make headlines, then realise later it’s not so bad or what he meant. But let’s be honest, we don’t like it, because it’s noise we don’t need, we need a calm environment and focus. And it does not help.”
Tuchel added: “He is an experienced player and he should know what kind of value it has when he speaks out with messages like this.
“I don’t see him as unhappy. I feel the exact opposite. If you ask me yesterday morning, I would say I feel the exact opposite. That’s why I would say it’s a surprise, but I am the wrong person to ask.”
On those talks with Lukaku, Tuchel said: “We will do it behind closed doors. We will speak openly like I think the relationship is and always has been.
“Maybe we here can take the time to try to understand what’s going on. Because it does not reflect his daily work, it does not reflect his daily attitude, it does not reflect the daily behaviour which Romelu shows here at Cobham.”
Standard Sport understands Lukaku – who returned to Stamford Bridge from Inter Milan in a £97.5million deal in August and has scored seven goals in 18 games across all competitions so far this term – will not push for a move away.
Sources close to the player say there is “zero” chance he will leave the European champions.
© Evening Standard