Romelu Lukaku’s future at Chelsea looks increasingly uncertain after the striker was dropped for Sunday’s Premier League clash with Liverpool, sources have told ESPN.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has taken the decision following talks with Lukaku in the wake of a controversial interview conducted by Sky Italia three weeks ago but released on Thursday.
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Lukaku said he was “not very happy with the situation” at Chelsea with Tuchel preferring to play “a different formation” to the one he expected, adding that he would like to return to Inter Milan while still in the prime of his career having only left the Serie A side last summer in a €115 million (£97.5m) deal.
Tuchel said the following day that Lukaku’s comments were “unhelpful” and risked taking the focus away from a pivotal moment in the Premier League title race. Nevertheless, omitting Lukaku is a huge call given the magnitude of the occasion with both Chelsea and Liverpool aiming to cut Manchester City’s 11-point lead at the top of the table.
Sources have told ESPN that Lukaku gave the interview without the club’s knowledge, an act which Tuchel and his staff have taken a dim view of. Lukaku was not believed to have any intention of attempting to force a move away in January but it remains to be seen whether his punishment — which could yet be accompanied by a fine — prompts a change of heart.
When asked on Friday how to get the best out of Lukaku, Tuchel replied: “Training, training, playing. Training, playing, training, sleeping, eating good, training, playing, sleeping, eating good, drink a lot of water, sleep, train and don’t give interviews.”
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