Sports

Champions League absence cast aspersion over Lukaku’s future at Chelsea

Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja

Romelu Lukaku’s future at Chelsea has been cast with doubts after the striker was left out of the North London club’s 2-0 Champions League win over Lille.

Last week, the Belgium international that signed from Inter Milan at 95.7million pounds recorded only seven touches on the ball in the game against Crystal Palace which is one of his poorest performances for the club since he came in last year.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel, in a post-match interview, stressed that the team performed brilliantly by maintaining a high intensity against Lille and also acknowledged the absence of Lukaku who he thinks needs to work more on his game.

Tuchel said, “It was not the moment after the Crystal Palace game where everyone focused on the few touches he had to put him straight into the next fire,” the Chelsea manager said. “It was time to take a step back. It was the decision and that’s it.

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“You can clearly see that we have a strong victory [tonight] and strong performance. It was a difficult game and almost all questions concerned Romelu. The focus is huge.

“Today the focus was on intensity and fast play. It was about working hard on the ball, off the ball and having intensive teamwork.

“Romelu struggled a bit in the last few games to get there. That’s what I wanted to say when I felt him a bit tired mentally and physically. Since then [last month’s] Liverpool game, he started every game and there was extra time as well.

“That’s how it is. Today we went for three more players with Kai (Havertz) in great shape, very confident and giving a lot of work rate in the high-intensity counters for the team.

“We had a very aggressive high line on the pitch with Hakim (Ziyech) and Christian (Pulisic), the three attacking players together. The training allowed us to have intensity and a consistently high work rate throughout the match.

Chelsea on Sunday will be playing Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in the finals of the EFL cup. Whether Lukaku will be included in the starting line for the Blues is still unconfirmed.

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