Sunday, June 26, 2022

The interview, fans booing, Thomas Tuchel system –What went wrong for Romelu Lukaku at Chelsea

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It could have been a signing that helped Chelsea really kick on from their 2020/21 UEFA Champions League triumph. The Blues wanted the Premier League title, and Romelu Lukaku was signed for £ 97.5million from Inter Milan to try and help.

There was a feeling that Lukaku had matured from the last time he played in England. After not making it at Manchester United, the Belgian spent two years in Italy with Inter Milan and spearheaded the Nerazzurri to their first Serie A title in over a decade.

Lukaku returned to the Premier League with a point to prove. The self-confidence had always been there, but this time around, it almost felt different. It felt as if Chelsea could have been buying the missing ingredient to see them edge closer to Manchester City and Liverpool.

READ MORE: Why £ 120m Raheem Sterling and Richarlison transfers could pose problems for five Chelsea stars

“I have supported Chelsea as a kid and now to be back and try to help them win more titles is an amazing feeling,” Lukaku said upon returning to Stamford Bridge.

“We’re very happy to have Romelu back in the club as an addition to our squad,” Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel said. “We think in terms of personality, his speed, power, he can hopefully be an excellent choice for us.” and an excellent addition.

He has the power, he has the physique to help us. He has the experience and the personality to have an instant impact in our squad. He is at the same time a humble guy and a true team player, and he cares about Chelsea . “.”

Tuchel was not wrong in one respect: Lukaku did have an immediate impact. His second Chelsea debut saw the Belgian score one of the Blues’ two goals in their London derby victory against Arsenal on August 22.

A trip to Anfield followed, and it was a difficult one for Chelsea, who went down to 10 men in the first-half and were then on the back-foot for the remainder of the match that ended 1-1. Next time out, though, Lukaku scored a double against Aston Villa and that really excited Chelsea supporters. They were both typical Romelu Lukaku goals. He was back firing in the Premier League once again.

Where did it all go wrong?

It’s difficult to believe after that scintillating start that it ended up badly for Lukaku at Chelsea. Following the brace he scored against Aston Villa on September 11, he found the back of the net just four times for the Blues in the remainder of 2021, albeit he missed the majority of November through injury.

Then came that interview with Sky Italia. “Physically, I am fine, even better than before. This condition is due to my two years in Italy, in which I worked a lot with trainers and nutritionists.

“It is something that will remain for always with me. However, I cannot say that I am happy with the situation, this is normal. I think that Tuchel has chosen to play with another module, and I just have to not give up, continue to work and be a professional. “

He added: “How I left Inter, how I communicated with the fans, this bothers me because it is not the right time now, but even when I left, it was not the right time. Now I think it is right to speak because I have always said that I have Inter in my heart, I will return to play there, I really hope so.

“I am in love with Italy, this is rightly the time to talk and let people know what really happened without talking badly about people because I am not like that. I want to say a big apology to the Inter fans because I think the way I left should have been different. 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. “

It was genuinely shocking when that interview was released to the public. Many thought that he might have been misinterpreted or misquoted somewhere along the line, but this was not the case.

Chelsea supporters on social media were understandably furious with these comments. Everyone was eager to see how Tuchel would react to the interview.

“We will talk with Lukaku openly behind closed doors. I am surprised because I don’t see him unhappy –the opposite, actually,” Tuchel said in reaction to the interview.

“We here can take the time to try to understand what is going on with Romelu. It does not reflect the daily attitude. We don’t like it, of course. It brings noise that we do not need, and it is not helpful . “.”

A few days after the comments from Lukaku were made public, the 29-year-old striker was dropped from Chelsea’s squad for their crucial Premier League clash with Liverpool on January 2. It was confirmation, if needed, that Tuchel was furious with what the striker had gone and said.

On January 5, Lukaku returned to the squad for Chelsea’s Carabao Cup victory over Tottenham. The Stamford Bridge crowd did not warm to the Belgian, though, with a large section of supporters booing the club’s record signing. This was telling. His relationship with Chelsea’s supporters was in tatters –a way back looked far away.

A few days after the win against Spurs, he featured and scored in the Blues’FA Cup win against Chesterfield, but that was his last goal for a month, where he proved influential in the side’s FIFA Club World Cup triumph. Premier League goals, and appearances for that matter, were hard to come by for Lukaku, however.

Tuchel used Lukaku as a substitute for the majority of the second half of the season. With Chelsea misfiring in front of goal, though, in April, Lukaku was handed a rare start in the Blues’ 2-2 draw with Wolves in May.

In that match at Stamford Bridge, the Belgium international scored both of Chelsea’s goals, but his double was somewhat overshadowed by a late comeback from Wolves that saw the points shared in west London. He was given another start in the 3-0 win against Leeds United four days later and impressed at Elland Road –scoring once.

There seemed to be a way back for Lukaku. Was he winning the fans over once again? Many called on him to start the FA Cup final against Liverpool –and Tuchel answered those calls.

However, he was deprived of service and struggled to get into the game –which, in truth, kind of summed up his season –against the Reds at Wembley. Brought off on 85 minutes, with the final heading to extra-time, it was a sign that Lukaku was not needed when Chelsea needed a goal scorer the most.

It was a signing that, on paper, looked to be a winner. Reece James on the right-hand side, crossing the ball into the danger area and finding the physically dominant Lukaku. This wasn’t the case, though.

Tuchel knew when he brought Lukaku in that he was not going to offer the pressing services off-the-ball that Kai Havertz does. It was essentially Chelsea playing with a man less when they were out of possession. It’s never been Lukaku’s game, and it never will be.

Lukaku, despite some questionable choices, is not the villain in all of this. It’s a failed transfer. It happens. Maybe more so with Chelsea over the years when it comes to signing central strikers.

He’s on his way back to Inter Milan. That’s for the best. It’s time for Chelsea to move on and kickstart their new era under Todd Boehly.

READ NEXT:

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