Friday, December 31, 2021

Thomas Tuchel: Lukaku’s comments are ‘not helpful’

Thomas Tuchel says he is not happy with Romelu Lukaku after the striker expressed his displeasure with his situation at Chelsea, adding the quotes are “just not helpful”.

Lukaku – who joined Chelsea in a club-record transfer in the summer – gave an interview to Sky in Italy in which he said he was “not very happy with the situation” at Stamford Bridge, and complained of Tuchel’s decision to play “a different formation”.

The interview was recorded earlier this month but published on Thursday – just days before Chelsea face Liverpool, live on Sky Sports, in a huge showdown between the two sides bidding to keep pace with Manchester City in the Premier League title race.

Asked for his reaction to Lukaku’s interview, Tuchel said: “I don’t like it because it brings noise that we don’t need. It’s just not helpful.

“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. It’s very easy to shorten lines and make headlines, then later realise that it’s not so bad and maybe not what he meant.

“But let’s be honest that we don’t like it.”

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Tuchel also revealed that Lukaku did not speak to him about his feelings before the interview went live, and that he was taken aback by the striker’s apparent unhappiness.

“I don’t feel him unhappy,” said Tuchel. “I feel him the exact opposite, that’s why it’s a surprise.

“But I’m the wrong person to ask.”

Lukaku’s comments were published after a period in which he scored three goals in four games for Chelsea, and it appeared he was re-establishing himself in the team following 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 whether the Belgian would be spoken to – and whether he could even face disciplinary action – replied: “We will and we will do it behind closed doors.

“We will do it openly, like I think the relationship has always been. No further comments in public on that.”

As well as Lukaku’s displeasure at his role in the team, Tuchel has also had to contend with a number of absences in his squad caused by Covid and injuries.

But while Tuchel admitted the squad were “angry” to drop yet more points, he dismissed any suggestion that Lukaku’s words could cause problems within the dressing room.
“The dressing room is not necessary to be always in harmony,” he said. “It’s absolutely not necessary to be successful.

“You don’t have to hug each other, love each other every single day. Sometimes it’s good to be on the edge and be a bit in disharmony, in between certain boundaries.

“The thing with Romelu is I don’t think that anybody in this building is aware that he’s unhappy, and that’s what makes us surprised about these statements.

“So first of all we need to check because I see no reason why it should be like this. We wait for what Romelu says and then we will deal with it.”
In his interview, Lukaku also talked up a return to Inter Milan, where he spent two years and won Serie A before returning to Chelsea for £97.5m.

The 28-year-old apologised to Inter’s fans for the way he left the club and revealed his desire to rejoin the Italian champions while he is still playing at a “good enough level”.

But Tuchel played down any suggestion that Lukaku may want a quick return to San Siro, saying: “This is what you read into it. I did not read it completely.

“It’s very easy to take lines out of context and make headlines to get the best out of these interviews for several days.

“If it’s an important player, I totally understand the process and that’s why it’s a lot of extra noise.

“We are not here to just read the headlines and maybe we can take the time to try to understand what’s going on.

“It does not reflect the daily work, attitude and behaviour which Romelu shows here.”

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