Thomas Tuchel should have had all the evidence in front of him to get the best out of Romelu Lukaku. Maligned at various points early in his career, the Belgian had flourished into one of the most devastating center forwards in European soccer during two seasons at Inter. A £ 97m return to Chelsea last summer should have lifted him to an even higher level.
Instead, Lukaku is reportedly looking for a way out of Chelsea just 12 months later. The 29-year-old suffered a difficult 2021/22 season at Stamford Bridge and was ultimately dropped by Tuchel as Kai Havertz occupied the center forward role in the German’s team. Lukaku had to watch much of the second half of the season from the bench.
Chelsea should have been the perfect for Lukaku. At Inter, the Belgian showed just how effective he is in quick transition. Often typecast as a targetman to hit with long balls and crosses, Lukaku is more comfortable when he has time and space to carry the ball at his feet. Antonio Conte recognized this as Inter won the Serie A title last season with Lukaku as their spearhead.
Under Tuchel, Chelsea have been a team built on a solid defensive foundation, but with genuine threat on the counter. This should have given Lukaku a strong platform to play his best soccer, but the 29-year-old has been a shadow of his former self for his new team. According to reports, Lukaku could return to Inter for a second spell such is his status at Chelsea currently.
Tuchel is one of the most demanding coaches in world soccer and so it’s not a shock that he might be pushing a player out of the exit door that only arrived a year ago. The Chelsea manager needs players that can play the way he wants and if Lukaku is not satisfying him, he’s likely to be gone sooner rather than later.
But the question lingers – what did Tuchel expect from Lukaku that he did not get last season? The Belgian started his 2021/22 campaign with four goals in his first five Chelsea appearances, but soon fell out of his groove. Was that down to Lukaku or was Tuchel to blame for using the striker in a way that does not suit his skill set as a player?
The signing of Lukaku last summer should have been the thing that turned Chelsea into genuine Premier
Regardless of who is to blame for the situation that has unfolded, Lukaku’s exit from Chelsea this summer would be a colossal waste. There is still some confusion over why Lukaku hasn’t been truly integrated into Tuchel’s team and the sight of the Belgian scoring goals for Inter again, as could materialize, will only add to that sense of confusion.