Romelu Lukaku has been dropped by Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel for Sunday’s Premier League match against Liverpool.
Club-record signing Lukaku has hit two goals in as many games but fell foul of Tuchel this week, after revealing unhappiness in an interview released on Thursday but conducted three weeks ago.
A surprised Tuchel admitted his frustrations with Lukaku’s comments on Friday, insisting he would seek talks with the £98million striker and handle the matter in-house.
And Tuchel has now omitted the Belgium international from the Chelsea squad for Sunday’s game at Stamford Bridge.
“We don’t like it, of course, because it brings noise that we don’t need and is not helpful,” the German said on Friday. “But on the other side, we don’t want to make more out of it than it actually is.
“You know very well how it is: It’s very easy to take lines out of context, to shorten lines to make headlines, then realise later it’s not so bad or what he meant.
“But let’s be honest, we don’t like it because it’s noise we don’t need; we need a calm environment. I don’t feel him unhappy, I feel the exact opposite.”
In Lukaku’s absence, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic form Chelsea’s forward line.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are without goalkeeper Alisson, defender Joel Matip and forward Roberto Firmino, all of whom have returned suspected positive test results for Covid-19.
Chelsea XI: Mendy, Chalobah, Silva, Rudiger, Azpilicueta, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso, Mount, Havertz, Pulisic.
Substitutes: Kepa, Sarr, Hall, Jorginho, Saul, Barkley, Hudson-Odoi, Vale, Ziyech.
Liverpool XI: Kelleher, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Konate, Tsimikas, Fabinho, Henderson, Milner, Mane, Jota, Salah.
Substitutes: Adrian, Pitaluga, Keita, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Beck, Williams, Morton.
PA contributed to this report.
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