Romelu Lukaku's return to Chelsea has been underwhelming, to say the least, and filled with controversy. The Belgian striker has failed to cement his place in the starting XI and has already been linked with a move away from the club in the summer transfer window. When asked whether that was a possibility, head coach Thomas Tuchel didn't hold back, admitting the decision would be Lukaku's to make, and indicating just what the 28-year-old needs to do in order to get back into the squad on a more regular basis, via Adam Newson.
Thomas Tuchel on Romelu Lukaku: "If he's involved, keeps involved mentally, stays involved in the situation to come through this, he can grow from it, come back stronger.
"It's always like this. It's for sure disappointing for him and not what we expected but it's not finished."
— Adam Newson (@AdamNewson) April 19, 2022
Tuchel didn't sugarcoat things, saying Lukaku's return to Chelsea was “not what we expected” but declaring that “it's not finished.”
When asked about whether Lukaku could potentially leave the London club this summer, Tuchel remained candid, admitting the decision was out of his hands via Football London.
“That is a question you need to ask him. 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 to go through this he can grow from it and come back stronger.
“It is always like this and it is for sure disappointing for him and not what we expected, not what we expected at the moment, but it is not finished and we will not give in. We never give in with any players and we never give up. 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.”
Lukaku has been linked with a move back to Inter Milan, where he enjoyed a sensational two seasons prior to his return to Chelsea. Since coming back to his boyhood club, things haven't been easy for the Belgian. Lukaku has battled injury and dealt with stints of inconsistency. In all, he's featured in 20 Premier League matches for Chelsea, scoring just 5 goals. That's certainly not the payoff for the reported $120 million Chelsea paid to acquire him in the summer, and Tuchel didn't deny it when addressing Lukaku's poor form.
Still, Tuchel has faith things can work out for Lukaku, if he's willing to work hard for it. If the Belgian does leave this summer it will be considered another disappointing stint at Stamford Bridge for him, but it may well be the best thing for his career. Tuchel thinks he can right the ship, though he admitted it wouldn't be easy for the 28-year-old.