Romelu Lukaku career at Chelsea ‘not finished’ as Thomas Tuchel urges striker to fight for place

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·3-min read
Romelu Lukaku career at Chelsea ‘not finished’ as Thomas Tuchel urges striker to fight for place
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Thomas Tuchel has told Romelu Lukaku to fight for his future at Chelsea.

The German admits the club record £97.5million signing has failed to live up to expectations since his return to Stamford Bridge last summer.

But he insists Lukaku can still be a major figure for the club if he has the mental strength to overcome what has been a miserable campaign.

Ahead of tonight’s game against Arsenal, Tuchel said: “For us it is clear - we can play with Romelu and we can be very strong with Romelu and we proved it.

“And we will prove it if he is involved and keeps involved mentally and he stays involved in the situation. He can grow from it and come back stronger.”

Lukaku has not started a Premier League game since February 19, when he managed just seven touches against Crystal Palace.

He has recently missed golden opportunities against Real Madrid in the Champions League and Palace in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final.

Tuchel added: “For sure it is disappointing for him and not what we expected. But it is not finished and we will not give in.

“We never give in with any players. We will push him - we will push as far as we can and as long as the player stays involved in the mentality that is needed to bring a team forward he can still be a crucial player.”

Tuchel claims fitness remains an issue for Lukaku and suggested he could be reduced to 60-minute bursts between now and the end of the season.

The Chelsea manager revealed he left the 28-year-old out of Sunday’s semi because he is still not physically up to playing a full role in his Chelsea team.

Lukaku was widely seen as the final piece in the jigsaw for Chelsea’s hopes of winning a first Premier League title since 2017 but he has struggled for fitness and form and is now reduced to a role on the fringes.

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

“After a period of injury, he lacks the stiffness and fitness for matches,” said Tuchel. “I don’t point the finger on him. It’s just a fact, it’s not even his fault.

“It is just like this and in the crucial time of the season where you need a certain rhythm.

“If you compare our matches and see the difference of Brentford, Real Madrid and then Southampton, Real Madrid - in a short period of time you see the huge amount of effort we put in to become again a winning team. This is what we need.

“It goes from there and then Romelu should have maybe had a goal against Real Madrid and on Sunday, missing the luck. It’s an option that he starts.

“If he starts, we need him physically. Maybe he cannot play 90 minutes, maybe to put it all out there for 60 minutes.”

Timo Werner has turned his fortune around in recent weeks with some outstanding performances and Tuchel insists Lukaku must find own his way to kick start his Chelsea career.

“I don’t think he needs inspiration,” he added. “What he needs is maybe that one moment, one spark. Normally, he [would] be a natural starter against Crystal Palace from terms also of the amount Kai Havertz played now, the amount of physicality Kai gives to the matches.”

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