Thomas Tuchel explains decision to drop Romelu Lukaku for Liverpool match

The striker frustrated his coach by revealing unhappiness in an interview released this week

Alex Pattle
Sunday 02 January 2022 16:29
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Thomas Tuchel has said the fallout from a controversial Romelu Lukaku interview was “too big” to include the striker in the Chelsea squad for Sunday’s game 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 Belgium international and handle the matter in-house.

The Chelsea coach subsequently omitted Lukaku from the Blues squad facing Liverpool at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League.

Speaking ahead of kick-off on Sunday, Tuchel said: “The thing got too big, too noisy so close to the match, so I decided to protect the preparation for the match, so that is why he is out.

“Of course we have spoken, twice – and to the main players – but after that we had to realise it was too close to the match. It’s too big.

“We delayed the decision over what to do, but while we are delaying we have to protect the preparation for the match, we have a big game to play.

“Full focus, which is hard to get even without this decision, was easier in my opinion if he is not in the squad, and that is why we did it. It was a difficult decision, but in my opinion it was the decision to take.”

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.

Coach Jurgen Klopp misses the fixture for the same reason.

PA contributed to this report.

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