Tuchel apologises in Lukaku transfer message; backs Chelsea man for Ballon d’Or

Date published: Sunday 10th October 2021 3:47 - Steve Pearson

Thomas Tuchel, Chelsea manager, 2021

Thomas Tuchel jokingly apologised to Inter Milan for depriving them of their most potent weapon, and backed a Chelsea star to scoop the 2021 Ballon d’Or.

The Blues smashed their transfer record this summer when bringing Romelu Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea lacked a cutting edge in the final third last year despite being crowned champions of Europe. As such, a whopping £97.5m deal to sign the Belgian hitman was sanctioned.

Lukaku has shown glimpses of his punishing best thus far. But with just four goals in nine matches across all competitions, the best is clearly still to come.

That certainly seems to be the view of Chelsea boss Tuchel who waxed lyrical about his new centre-forward.

Speaking at a Sports Festival in Trento (via Football Italia), Tuchel said of Lukaku: “I’m sorry for the Inter fans. But like everyone, we try to improve our formation.

“We were looking for a very physical striker, a point of reference, a player with a personality who could lift the pressure off the shoulders of the younger players and give us the chance to play faster football.

“Returning to England, where he played as a young man, was important for him. I knew he was an extraordinary person.”

No fewer than five Chelsea stars were recently named on the 30-man Ballon d’Or shortlist. Cesar Azpilicueta, Romelu Lukaku, Mason Mount and N’Golo Kante were honoured, though perhaps the club’s likeliest candidate to scoop the award is Jorginho.

Jorginho Leonardo Bonucci Italy Euro 2020 winner TEAMtalk

On top of winning the Champions League, the midfield metronome played a starring role at Euro 2020 for eventual winners Italy.

In Tuchel’s eyes, Jorginho “deserves” to scoop the prestigious award.

“Jorginho deserves to win the Ballon d’Or,” Tuchel said. “He’s a very intelligent player and it’s a pleasure to be his coach.

“He has a great vision of football. For me, individual prizes don’t have great significance, it’s impossible to make a real comparison between several players of different roles.

“I would like one of my players to win it because I would know what the effect would be. Then Jorginho is a great person and an excellent player, but in general it’s not the most important thing.”

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Lukaku impact at highest level questioned

Meanwhile, former Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood feels Lukaku needs to up his game against the top Premier League teams.

The Belgian striker has bagged 255 goals from 517 appearances in all competitions. But Sherwood has questioned how many of those have come against the big boys, using a cricket analogy to back up his point.

“Romelu has to do it against the big teams, for me, it’s still a question mark on him,” he told Optus Sport, per Football London. “I think he’s fantastic. He takes them to another level and he’s better than the players they had in that position. But he’s a flat-track bully.

“He’s someone who rolls over the lesser teams, he scores multiples against the lesser teams. He needs to go and do it against the Liverpool’s.”

Sherwood then went on to reference Mohamed Salah when declaring the Egyptian is the perfect example of a forward who peaks against the top sides.

READ MORE: Chelsea have ‘agreement in place’ to renew contract of key Tuchel man

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