Premier League • England

Pundits disagree over ‘below elite’ Chelsea star who ‘needs to go out and play’ after Real Madrid flop

Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount, Romelu Lukaku Middlesbrough v Chelsea March 2022

Jamie Carragher says Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku does not need the love from boss Thomas Tuchel, he just needs to “go out and play well”.

Chelsea suffered a disastrous 3-1 home defeat against Real Madrid on Wednesday night. Their Champions League hopes are dangling by a thread after the quarter-final first-leg setback. Indeed Tuchel virtually wrote off their chances of overturning the tie in the return leg at the Bernabeu.

It was a night to forget for Chelsea as a whole. Even more so for Lukaku who started on the bench and then missed a sitter when he came on.

Chelsea nightmare

Had he taken it, the £97.5million striker would have hauled Chelsea back in to the tie. Instead he opened himself up to even more criticism from fans and pundits alike.

Speaking on CBS Sports after the game, Micah Richards attempted to defend the striker. Richards felt it would be unfair to kick Lukaku when he was down and he needed some love from Tuchel.

“Today, he came on and he missed a sitter,” Richards said after the game. “It’ll be on all the socials and everyone will be taking the mick out of him. He’s a top quality player, he’s just going through a tough time at this moment.”

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However Carragher was not as sympathetic and says Lukaku needs to step up in the big moments. The 28-year-old has scored almost 200 league goals at club level throughout his career. He was a revelation at Everton and Inter Milan in particular.

It has not gone as well since returning to Chelsea. He has managed 12 goals, five in the Premier League, in 36 appearances and is struggling to earn a start.

Carragher does not hold back

Carragher accepts he is a quality player but cannot be classed as ‘elite’. The former Liverpool defender also says it is down to Lukaku not Tuchel to turn the situation.

“I always feel whenever we’ve spoken about Lukaku, he gets a lot of goals but there’s always been a ‘but’,” Carragher told CBS Sports. “Even his record in the Premier League, if you look at the teams, it was never against the biggest teams.

“He’s a very good player, but when you’re talking about [Karim] Benzema, when you’re talking about Harry Kane, when you’re talking about [Robert] Lewandowski, for me he’s just always been a bit below that.

“I don’t question the manager at all in that situation. This thing about needing love… just go and play well.”

READ MORE: Tuchel blasts Chelsea display with two cutting remarks before snapping at interviewer’s comment