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Romelu Lukaku dropped, Chelsea, Thomas Tuchel, reaction, contract, video

Romelu Lukaku was dropped from the Chelsea squad by Thomas Tuchel for Monday’s crucial Premier League clash with Liverpool after revealing he is unhappy with how his second spell at Stamford Bridge is going.

The Belgian returned to Chelsea for a club record £98 million ($132 million) in August after two successful seasons with Inter Milan.

In an interview with Sky Italy, recorded in mid-December but only aired earlier this week, Lukaku also admitted he would like to return to Inter in the near future.

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“Physically I am fine. But I’m not happy with the situation at Chelsea,” Lukaku said.

“Tuchel has chosen to play with another system. I won’t give up, I’ll be professional.

“I really hope in the depths of my heart to return to Inter, not at the end of my career, but at a still good level to hopefully win more.”

Tuchel admitted on Saturday he was surprised by Lukaku’s comments, describing them as “noise we don’t need” and “not helpful”.

Premier League legend Graeme Souness called on Lukaku to apologise to his teammates.

“You’re trying to understand how a player has got to a stage where he’s come out with such a ridiculous and damaging statement,” said Souness on Sky Sports.

“It was totally disrespectful. He’s 29 years old not 19 and he should know better. This damages the football club enormously. It’s like walking into a dressing room and telling the other guys, ‘I don’t want to be with you anymore’.

“It damages the manager, and he should say, ‘If you don’t fancy it here, there’s the door. On you go’. The first thing I’d do if I was Thomas Tuchel is I’d tell Lukaku that he needs to apologise. He needs to stand in front of everyone in the dressing room and apologise unreservedly.

“If he’s not prepared to come to me as the manager, I’d come to him and have an honest conversation over whether he really meant it or whether it was a mistake. If he’s not apologised, then he’s done the right thing [in leaving him out].

“Tuchel has put a marker down and Lukaku has more than crossed the line. He has to apologise to his team-mates. It was so offside, it beggars belief.”

Gary Neville though was far more understanding and said Lukaku does not need to apologise if he was telling the truth.

“I don’t think any manager could be criticised for that approach [to drop Lukaku],” he said.

“Control is critical for a manager. If you have heard those words in the week, they’re not easy words for the manager to hear and not easy words for the owner to hear. But also for the team-mates who are trying to win a Premier League title.

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“I’ve been very critical of players over this last three or four months for standard, bland PR messages, not being themselves and when a player comes out and is truthful and authentic, I can’t stand here and say that it’s something I don’t want to hear. I know Chelsea’s fans don’t want to hear it, I know Chelsea’s owners and players don’t want to hear it but from our point of view, he’s told the truth.

“What I don’t want to see this week is some sort of, ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, I love this club’. That’s not going to wash. He’s told the truth, we appreciate it but it’s difficult to unravel the truth when it’s as brutal as what Lukaku has said. He has to now somehow try to win his way back into Tuchel’s plans. The fans have to accept him – and I think they will if he carries on playing and he does what he’s been doing.”

Tuchel’s decision to axe Lukaku for the Liverpool showdown was a major gamble at a vital point in Chelsea’s season.

Lukaku was expected to be the final piece in the jigsaw for Chelsea when he joined the Champions League winners in a blockbuster transfer.

The 28-year-old scored on his debut against Arsenal in August among four goals in his first four games.

But he then scored just once in his next 12 appearances either side of suffering an ankle injury in October.

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When Lukaku returned after five weeks out, he was unable to regain his place and looked sluggish when he did feature from the bench.

Tuchel even admitted Chelsea looked more dynamic when Lukaku was not in the side during that period.

The former Manchester United striker also tested positive for coronavirus in December to further slow his return to the starting line-up.

However, Lukaku has had a recent upturn in form, scoring in his last two Premier League appearances against Aston Villa and Brighton.

Liverpool had their own coronavirus issues ahead of the trip to Stamford Bridge with manager Jurgen Klopp isolating along with Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip, having returned suspected positive tests.

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