Premier League • England

Tuchel reminds of Chelsea ‘demand’ while dissecting Lukaku issue, as ‘brave’ teammate earns appreciation

Thiago Silva celebrating with Romelu Lukaku for Chelsea

Thomas Tuchel will be looking for a solution to the involvement of Romelu Lukaku for Chelsea after assessing his own demands for his attackers.

Lukaku only touched the ball seven times despite lasting all 90 minutes of the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday. It raised further questions of the striker’s impact after his club-record return to Chelsea from Inter Milan in the summer.

The spotlight has been on the Belgian frontman, whose form has differed greatly from what he enjoyed in Italy last season. It has become a dilemma for Tuchel, who must try to get more of a tune from the £97.5m man.

Asked about how he can get Lukaku more involved when speaking before their next match, against Lille in the Champions League on Tuesday, Tuchel replied: “What can I do? I don’t know. We have to deal with it.

“The data is out there and the data speaks a certain language. He was not involved in our game. It’s sometimes like this.

“It’s, of course, not what we want or Romelu wants. But it’s not the time to laugh about him and make jokes about him.”

Lukaku is the latest in a long line of high-profile strikers to shine elsewhere but struggle at Stamford Bridge. Tuchel is all too aware of the pattern. He conceded that in Lukaku’s case – and the other strikers currently at his disposal – it could be as a result of his own system.

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He replied: “Maybe, maybe. There is a history of strikers struggling at Chelsea so it may not be the easiest place in the world for strikers.

“In my opinion, Chelsea are a team considered a strong defensive team, a physical team, that has a certain attitude when in competitive football.

“We demand a lot of our strikers in terms of defending. We want to be physical, hard-working group that wants to play a physical game as well as a skilful game.

“We are on the subject and are well aware. But like always in football it’s not just one reason to sort. It’s a complex sport and we will continue to play with faith, with a team effort, and it’s what we do.”

Lukaku has scored eight goals since returning to Chelsea in the summer. Two of those have come in the Champions League, the competition they are currently focusing on. He will be hoping for a bigger impact if he plays against Lille.

Tuchel impressed by Thiago Silva

As Tuchel explained, Chelsea’s success during his reign has been built from the opposite end of the pitch. And one of their most impressive defenders has been Thiago Silva.

The former PSG captain will be up against a French opponent again when Lille visit Stamford Bridge. Having worked with him in Paris and in London, Tuchel is a big admirer.

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Tuchel was in charge of PSG when they let the Brazilian go. However, at Chelsea, he has been instrumental, earning a future in west London until 2023.

His manager thinks highly of his mentality to challenge himself in his mid-30s.

Asked if Thiago Silva has impressed him more for Chelsea, Tuchel said: “It’s a different club here. The rules and atmosphere are different and that’s normal. There is a special atmosphere at every club; that was the case at PSG and at Chelsea.

“There is a winning mentality here about showing your strength and playing as a top team with experienced players.

“Thiago was very brave to come to the Premier League at his age, with his status at PSG, and to change his life. He has been fantastic since he arrived and it’s the same story now.

“It’s a pleasure to be his coach because he sets an example every day. He is humble and professional and an exceptional player.

“We’ve had a back three in many games and he’s excellent in the middle. He contributes so much with his experience and is very reliable. He is the same person he was in Paris and I feel he was very brave to change his life towards the end of his career. That is very impressive.”

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