04 January 2022

Romelu Lukaku sorry for controversial interview, but there is ‘still a bit of a smell from it’ says Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel

04 January 2022

Romelu Lukaku has apologised for his controversial interview in which he revealed his unhappiness at Chelsea and is available to play in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Tottenham.

Blues boss Thomas Tuchel revealed Belgium striker Lukaku feels responsible and determined to “clean the mess up”, after an interview with Sky Italy that was released last Thursday but conducted three weeks previously.

Club-record signing Lukaku was stood down for Sunday’s 2-2 Premier League draw with Liverpool, but crunch talks on Monday have cleared the air.

Tuchel has insisted he is now satisfied Lukaku did not intend to cause such deep damage and has accepted the £98million man’s apology as fully genuine.

For me the most important thing was to understand and clearly understand and believe that it was not intentional. He did not do this intentionally to create noise in front of such a big game.

“First of all we were even in the background happy that we took the time that it needed to look calmly on it and talk calmly,” Tuchel said.

“He apologised and is back in the squad for (Tuesday’s) training.

“For me the most important thing was to understand and clearly understand and believe that it was not intentional.

“He did not do this intentionally to create noise in front of such a big game.

“And it’s the very first time even he has behaved like this.”

While Tuchel is pleased to have Lukaku back in contention for selection, the German coach also insisted the former Inter Milan star must now take responsibility himself to resolve the commotion.

Romelu Lukaku was stood down for Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire)

“It’s not that big as maybe people want it to be, but it’s also not small,” Tuchel said.

“But it is small enough to stay calm, accept an apology and to move on forward. He’s very aware of what happened and what he created and he feels the responsibility to clean the mess up.

“Maybe we will have a bit of smell still from it, of course. He can handle it, but he also has no other choice.

“He cannot expect everybody to be super happy the very next day.

“But he’s still our player and we have good, good reasons and a lot of reasons to make him play for us, and to convince him and to fight hard that he’s our player. We’re happy he’s our player, we will protect him.”

Lukaku told Sky Sport Italy in an interview broadcast last Thursday: “I’m not happy with the situation (at Chelsea) and that’s only natural.”

The former Inter Milan star had however told ESPN Brazil on Boxing Day that he and Tuchel had thrashed out some differences, having aimed for a “multidimensional” role with the Blues.

Thomas Tuchel, pictured, has pointed the way forward for Chelsea and Romelu Lukaku (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Wire)

Tuchel and Chelsea were blindsided by both the interview and Lukaku’s comments, and the taskmaster Blues boss opted to omit the talisman striker from Sunday’s key Liverpool clash.

Chelsea’s board have clearly backed Tuchel in the situation, and the fightback for a 2-2 draw in Lukaku’s absence handed the former Mainz coach a solid level of vindication.

Tuchel admitted Lukaku’s searing honesty can sometimes lead to issues, but insisted the influential forward remains fully committed to Chelsea.

“He is very committed in his private and professional life,” said Tuchel.

“That’s why it is so surprising to me because he scored against Aston Villa and Brighton.

Romelu Lukaku celebrates his goal against Brighton (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Wire)

“He was there and decisive and we had a feeling of a new start after injury and Covid so it was a big surprise.

“Before that interview, I never had the slightest doubt that he wasn’t committed. Off the pitch and in his private life, he was always going in the same direction.

“He is an emotional guy who doesn’t hold back his opinion. Sometimes he carries his heart on his tongue and it is like this.

“We shouldn’t just blame him and point on the negative side of it. We have to adapt to it and it created some negative noise that we have to deal with.

“But there are zero doubts on his commitment to the team and the club.”

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