Thomas Tuchel has spoken of his frustration following the interview Romelu Lukaku gave outlining his dissatisfaction at life back at Stamford Bridge – but insists the striker can turn his apparent upset into Chelsea’s advantage.
The 28-year-old became the Blues record signing when he returned to the club he left back in 2014. They paid Inter £97.5m for the Belgium international who penned a five-year deal in west London. The former Manchester United ace began well back at the Bridge, scoring in his first game away at Arsenal.
However, matters quickly turned south with a series of injuries seeing Lukaku’s game-time restricted. That frustration then led to Lukaku telling Sky Italy “I’m not happy with the situation” at Chelsea in an interview released on Thursday.
The “surprised” Chelsea boss says he will now sit down with the striker to thrash out a way forward. However, he is adamant he does not see any problem with Lukaku.
Nonetheless, Tuchel concedes the interview has left a sour taste and he’s feeling frustrated by the “noise”.
“We don’t like it, of course, because it brings noise that we don’t need and is not helpful,” Tuchel said on Friday.
“But 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, to shorten lines to make headlines, then realise later it’s not so bad or what he meant.
“But let’s be honest, we don’t like it, because it’s noise we don’t need, we need a calm environment.
“I don’t feel him unhappy; I feel the exact opposite. If you ask me yesterday morning, I would say he is absolutely fine.
“But if there is something to discuss, it’s behind closed doors, for sure.
“If it’s an interview from a person of that kind of interest, an important player, I totally understand the process. And that’s why it’s a lot of extra noise, but still we are not here to just read the headlines.
Tuchel admits his surprise
“And maybe we here can take the time to try to understand what’s going on.
“Because it does not reflect his daily work, it does not reflect his daily attitud. In fact, the daily behaviour which Romelu shows here at Cobham is excellent.
“But you need to ask him not me, I cannot answer you further, because I was surprised.”
Lukaku has hit two goals in his last two appearances, netting in the 1-1 draw with Brighton on Wednesday in his first Chelsea start for 10 weeks.
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The former Inter Milan hitman missed a sizeable chunk of the season through ankle trouble and then contracting Covid-19. Indeed, Tuchel says he deliberately staggered his return to action, though accepts the striker was clearly itching for action.
Chelsea will host Liverpool on Sunday without hamstring injury victim Reece James and Ben Chilwell. The latter’s season now looks over after knee ligament surgery.
Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are further defensive injury doubts. Timo Werner remains well after testing positive for Covid.
Tuchel turning Romelu Lukaku situation into positive
Tuchel insists, however, he will be taking a measured reaction to Lukaku’s comments and plans more talks with the 28-year-old.
But the German also claims a level of tension in a top club’s dressing room can be turned into an advantage.
“It’s not necessary for the dressing room to be always in harmony,” said Tuchel.
“You don’t have to hug each other and love each other every day.
“Sometimes it’s good to be on the edge, sometimes it’s good to be in disharmony, when it is in between certain boundaries.
“The thing with Romelu Lukaku is that I don’t think anyone in this building is aware he’s unhappy.
“That’s why (there is) surprise at the statement. That’s why we need to check with him now, because I can see no reason why it should be like this.
“So I will wait to see what Romelu has to say and then we will deal with this.”