Why Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku was left out vs. Liverpool: Explaining Thomas Tuchel’s squad decision

Chelsea will try to keep their hopes for the Premier League title alive without club record signing Romelu Lukaku after manager Thomas Tuchel left the $ 135 million striker out of the squad to face Liverpool following the publication of an interview that the first awarded to an Italian media.

In the interview with Sky Sports Italia, which reportedly took place several weeks ago, Lukaku said he was unhappy at Chelsea, citing a change in tactics by Tuchel. But he also claimed that he was a professional and was committed to hard work.

The publication of those comments caused a media storm, especially as Lukaku also spoke in glowing terms about his time at Inter Milan and his desire to one day return to the Italian club that he helped lead to a league title in 2020-21 before. from his move to Chelsea.

Tuchel was forced to address the interview in his pre-match press conference ahead of what is a potentially decisive league battle against Liverpool with 11 points separating the Blues from first place Manchester City. The German technician lamented that it was “noise that we do not need” and also argued that he has made minimal tactical adjustments to the equipment: “You will not find many changes in the system, if you find any.”

Whatever subsequent private conversations with Lukaku so far, they didn’t seem to remedy the situation. Former Everton teammate Tim Howard exchanged text messages with Lukaku on Sunday morning. sharing that Lukaku and Tuchel “are going to have another meeting. I can talk more after that. Right now the situation is too hot.”

Now the Blues have to face a possible deciding game for the season without their leading forward, who has scored in his last two outings.

What Lukaku said in the Sky Sports interview

The timing of Sky’s interview release was curious, given that it reportedly took place three weeks earlier. It also came at a time when Lukaku seemed to be gaining some momentum after injury caused him to waste a lot of time. He scored in his first two games in the lineup.

“I am not happy with the situation and that is natural,” Lukaku told Sky Sports Italia (in comments translated from Italian). “The head coach has decided to play with a different system, but I need to keep working hard and be professional.

“I am not happy with the situation but I am a worker and I cannot give up.”

There was a lot of speculation about what Tuchel would do in response. His decision to remove Lukaku from the team is a clear sign that the interview was perceived as detrimental conduct for the team.

It will be interesting to see how Tuchel addresses his decision in his pre-game remarks before the game against Liverpool.

Will Lukaku leave Chelsea? What happens next?

Lukaku’s comments to Sky Sports Italia may have come at a time of frustration as he returned from a long injury absence during what has been a bumpy start to his return to Chelsea.

He has missed eight of 21 league games and has only scored in four of his 13 appearances for a total of five Premier League goals. He also found the net twice in the four Champions League games he played.

Tuchel made reference to the difficult start to the season that the Belgian international has experienced after joining in August with a transfer fee of $ 135 million from Inter Milan: “Romelu played when he arrived, then he was injured, then he caught COVID. Better, But that’s my situation. He gave an interview, so maybe he has a problem and needs to talk. I don’t have one. “

Given the level of investment made by Chelsea, it is difficult to see the defending champions of Europe looking to shed a player who is seen as critical to their ability to fight for major titles in 2021-22. Differences in tactical opinions are commonplace within clubs and can be resolved. The main problem in this case is the judgment shown by the 28-year-old in taking his opinion to the media, and apparently misleading his own manager and damaging his team.

Especially since Lukaku made it clear in the interview that he would continue to work hard and be a professional (he has scored two goals since doing the interview), it seems that the player is willing to make the situation work. . However, it is the words he expressed about Inter Milan and his love for his former Italian club that are likely to be the hardest part for Chelsea fans to digest. It is telling that Lukaku has yet to address the matter publicly.

The reaction among fans and the media has been mixed, with most siding with Tuchel for a decision many felt he had to make. Meanwhile, some Chelsea fans also expressed a feeling of betrayal: