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4 Jan, 2022 14:15

Lukaku row ‘still smells’ but star has apologized – Chelsea boss Tuchel

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel says Romelu Lukaku has apologized after a scandal surrounding an explosive interview by the forward
Lukaku row ‘still smells’ but star has apologized – Chelsea boss Tuchel

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that Romelu Lukaku will return to the squad and that the pair have settled the row which erupted when the Belgian suggested he was unhappy at the London club.

Hitman Lukaku rejoined the Blues in a club record £97.5 million ($130 million) deal from Inter Milan in the summer but signaled that he was already disgruntled with life back at Stamford Bridge in a controversial interview with Sky in Italy.

That led to Lukaku being left out of the Chelsea squad for the Premier League game against Liverpool at the weekend.

However, in a Tuesday press conference ahead of the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Tottenham, Tuchel said that things had been patched up with the forward.

“We were happy that we took the time to look calmly at it,” Tuchel told the media.

“He apologized and is back in the squad for training today. For me, the most important thing was to understand and believe that it was not intentional, he did not do this to create this noise before a big game.

“The second thing, it was the very first time that he behaved [like this]… there was never the slightest behavior against the team. These are important points.

“It’s not that big as people wanted it to be. It’s not that small, but it’s small enough to stay calm and accept an apology.

“He is very aware of what happened and what he created, he feels the responsibility to clear the mess up.

"Maybe we will have a bit of smell still, of course, but he can handle it. He has no other choice. He can’t expect everybody to be super happy the next day.

“But he is still our player… we are happy that he is our player and we will protect him."

Tuchel added: "He is very committed, that's why it was surprising for me, after injury and Covid we had that big feeling [he was committed].

"Before that interview I never had the slightest doubt that he was not committed...

"He's an emotional guy, he does not hold back with his opinion, sometimes he carries his heart on his tongue. We should not just blame him, it created some noise, but there are zero doubts about his commitment to the club."

Tuchel is said to have had the full backing of the Chelsea hierarchy – including owner Roman Abramovich and director Marina Granovskaia – over his stance to omit Lukaku from the squad for the Liverpool game, which ended 2-2.

But the Belgian will be expected to return in some capacity for Wednesday’s game against Tottenham, who are managed by former Blues boss Antonio Conte – who is also the man under whom Lukaku thrived in Italy as Inter won the Serie A title.

Lukaku, 28, has scored seven times in 18 appearances across all competitions since arriving back at Chelsea in August.