After standing the club-record signing down for Sunday’s 2-2 Premier League draw with Liverpool, Thomas Tuchel has since held clear-the-air talks with Romelu Lukaku; Watch Chelsea vs Tottenham live on Sky Sports Football from 7pm on Wednesday; kick-off 7.45pm
Romelu Lukaku is in contention to return for Chelsea in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup game against Tottenham after apologising for a recent interview, head coach Thomas Tuchel has confirmed.
In an interview aired by broadcaster Sky in Italy, Lukaku said he was not happy with the situation at Chelsea and indicated he had issues with Tuchel’s style of play.
“First of all, we were even in the background happy that we took the time that it needed to look calmly on it and talk calmly,” Tuchel said.
“He has apologised and is back in the squad for today’s training [session] later.
“He did not do this intentionally to create noise in front of such a big game.”
While Tuchel is happy to have Lukaku back in contention for selection, the German coach also insisted the former Inter Milan star must now take responsibility himself to resolve the commotion.
“It’s not that big as maybe people want it to be, but it’s also not small,” said Tuchel.
“But it is small enough to stay calm, accept an apology and to move on forward. He’s very aware of what happened and what he created and he feels the responsibility to clean the mess up.
“Maybe we will have a bit of smell still from it of course. He can handle it, but he also has no other choice.
“He cannot expect everybody to be super happy the very next day.
“But he’s still our player and we have good, good reasons and a lot of reasons to make him play for us, and to convince him and to fight hard that he’s our player. We’re happy he’s our player, we will protect him.”
What did Lukaku say in controversial interview?
In a 29-minute interview with Sky in Italy recorded earlier in December, Lukaku said he said he was “not happy” with his situation at Chelsea, questioned Tuchel’s system and revealed he turned down a move to Manchester City in 2020.
very happy with the situation, but that’s normal,” Lukaku said. “I think the boss has decided to play a different formation but I have to stick at it and get on with it professionally.
“I’m not happy with the situation but it’s my job and I mustn’t give up.
“When I was at Inter, at the end of the first year, I turned down an offer from Manchester City which was higher than Chelsea’s this summer.
“So the second year after we won the Scudetto, I went to speak with club chiefs and asked for a new contract. I did it because I told myself I’m 28 years old, my family feels great in Milan, I still have my flat there, my mother and my son could come and live there and we would all feel comfortable.
“But they didn’t want to extend my contract, the possibility wasn’t there. It was tough for me to accept, because in my head I told myself that I would be able to do a few more years in Milan.”
“In my opinion, there are three absolute top teams in football – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Every player dreams of playing for one of these teams one day. So I thought if I ever had that possibility, I would sign a new contract with Inter and then go there.
“But it didn’t happen, so I told myself that there is only one team where I could possibly see myself – Chelsea. I wasn’t thinking about going there, but at one point they came in for me and so I asked [Inter boss Simone] Inzaghi to leave.
“The fact that they didn’t try to make me sign a new contract bothered me a bit, it hurt me even. If Inter offered me a new contract, I would have stayed 100 per cent. That goes without saying.”
Graeme Souness says Lukaku must apologise to his teammates after the comments he made in his Sky in Italy interview led to Tuchel dropping the striker against Liverpool.
However, fellow pundit Gary Neville says an apology isn’t necessary if Lukaku has told the truth – but he must work hard to win back the trust of his manager and fans in what is now “rather than a love story, a transactional relationship.”
Lukaku said he hoped to go back to Inter soon because he was unhappy with how Tuchel was utilising him.
Sky Sports pundit Souness described Lukaku’s decision to say those things as “ridiculous and damaging” and backed Tuchel for leaving out the £97.5m forward, despite the enormity of the game.
In the end, Chelsea drew 2-2 with Liverpool – a result which only really benefits Premier League leaders Manchester City.