Thomas Tuchel is reportedly considering whether to punish Romelu Lukaku for his eye-opening interview this week by dropping the striker for Chelsea’s home showdown with Liverpool on Sunday.
The Belgium forward is sweating on his place in the line-up after angering Tuchel by going public with his frustrations with life at Stamford Bridge. He even admitted that he would like a return to old club Inter Milan at some point.
There have been some reports that Lukaku could be dropped completely from the squad to face Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Tuchel is understood to be ‘livid’ after comments were aired in an unauthorised interview with Sky Italia on Thursday night. Indeed, the German has already spoken to the player but could take matters further.
The interview is actually understood to have happened three weeks ago, with Lukaku’s intention to help build bridges with Inter fans after his exit last summer, as reported in The Guardian.
However, it ended up backfiring spectacularly, with the 28-year-old instead angering his current employers.
Dropping Lukaku a big gamble
If Tuchel does decide to drop Lukaku, it would be seen as a massive gamble. Liverpool are currently a point behind Chelsea in third spot, while the Blues are now 11 points adrift of leaders Manchester City.
The Stamford Bridge outfit have also won only one of their last four league outings. However, Tuchel blames disruptions in his squad due to injury and Covid for their current struggles.
Three defenders Chelsea are targeting in January
Chelsea are reportedly making plans to sign three new defenders in January.
Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, N’Golo Kante, Jorginho and Ruben Loftus‑Cheek have been out with injury in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Mateo Kovacic have been unavailable for selection having tested positive for Covid.
Reece James also sustained a hamstring injury in the draw with Brighton and will miss the Liverpool game. And another defender, Andreas Christensen, has a back strain and is also doubtful.
With so many selection issues, dropping Lukaku completely could backfire on Tuchel in a big way. That leaves his decision for Sunday’s game as a potentially pivotal one for Chelsea’s season.
Chelsea handed Rudiger boost
Meanwhile, Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has been given a major boost after Real Madrid reportedly cooled their interest in Antonio Rudiger.
The centre-back is out of contract in June and can sort out a pre-contract agreement with another club this month. Carlo Ancelotti’s side have been hot on his trail for a while now.
So much so that Chelsea have been looking at potential Rudiger replacements. PSG’s Presnel Kimpembe and Matthijs de Ligt of Juventus are two options.
All signs have pointed to Spain for the 28-year-old, although that may no longer be the case.
Goal, who cite reports coming out of Spain, provide an update on the German’s future. They claim Rudiger’s agent has been in contact with Madrid officials.
However, Los Blancos have been put off by the player’s huge wage demands. He also wants a monumental signing on bonus, according to the report, making Madrid ‘feel used’.
Madrid are unwilling to meet his demands, which could see them pull out of the transfer race.
They will instead prioritise a new contract for Eder Militao. The Brazilian defender will be offered a long-term deal worth €8.5m each year.
The news is likely to put Chelsea in the driving seat as they aim to tie Rudiger down. Reports claim he wants a new challenge, but Madrid distancing themselves from proceedings gives Tuchel a huge boost.