Romelu Lukaku says it is up to him to “restore trust” after making a public apology to Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel, his team-mates and the club’s supporters over his recent interview.
Tuchel confirmed on Tuesday Lukaku is in contention to return for Chelsea in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final against Tottenham, having stood down the club-record signing down for Sunday’s 2-2 Premier League draw with Liverpool.
In an interview aired by broadcaster Sky in Italy, Lukaku said he was not happy with the situation at Chelsea and indicated he had issues with Tuchel’s style of play.
“To the fans I’m sorry for the upset that I caused,” Lukaku said in an interview with the club website.
“You guys know the connection that I have with this club since my teenage years, so I totally understand you guys being upset.
“Obviously, it’s up to me now to restore your trust and I’ll do my best to show commitment every day on the training ground and in the games, trying to make sure that we win games.
“And also to the manager, I apologise, and also to my team-mates and the board, because I think it was not the right moment also and I want to move forward from this and make sure that we start winning football games and that I perform for the team in the best manner.”
Tuchel held clear-the-air talks with the Lukaku on Monday, and said the striker feels responsible and determined to “clean the mess up” and revealed he is back in the squad for training ahead of the visit of Spurs.
“First of all, we were even in the background happy that we took the time that it needed to look calmly on it and talk calmly,” Tuchel said.
“He has apologised and is back in the squad for today’s training [session] later.
“We have had enough time to clear the air and move on.
“For me, the most important thing was to understand and clearly understand and believe that it was not intentional.
“He did not do this intentionally to create noise in front of such a big game.”
While Tuchel is happy to have Lukaku back in contention for selection, the German coach also insisted the former Inter Milan striker must now take responsibility himself to resolve the commotion.
“It’s not that big as maybe people want it to be, but it’s also not small,” said Tuchel.
“But it is small enough to stay calm, accept an apology and to move on forward. He’s very aware of what happened and what he created and he feels the responsibility to clean the mess up.
“Maybe we will have a bit of smell still from it of course. He can handle it, but he also has no other choice.
“He cannot expect everybody to be super happy the very next day.
“But he’s still our player and we have good, good reasons and a lot of reasons to make him play for us, and to convince him and to fight hard that he’s our player. We’re happy he’s our player, we will protect him.”
Solhekol: As far as Tuchel is concerned, Lukaku situation over now
Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol on The Transfer Show:
“I don’t think it was the kind of meeting where Lukaku was told off by Tuchel. Of course, Tuchel and Chelsea are unhappy about what happened, but I think the purpose of the meeting was to listen to what Lukaku had to say, hear his side of the story and take it from there.
“What is significant is that Lukaku apologised. He said that he regretted what he had done, he made a mistake and he never should have said what he did.
“And to be fair to Tuchel, he accepted that straight away. We’ve heard him say in the past that he doesn’t have a problem with people making mistakes, as long as they put their hands up, accept responsibly and learn from them.
“That is what has happened in this case. Tuchel and Chelsea will always try and be supportive of their players and protect them. As far as Tuchel is concerned, it is over now.
“Now it is time for Lukaku to let his football do the talking and it’ll be interesting to see if he’s in the starting line-up against Spurs tomorrow night.”
What did Lukaku say in controversial interview?
In a 29-minute interview with Sky in Italy recorded earlier in December, Lukaku said he said he was “not happy” with his situation at Chelsea, questioned Tuchel’s system and revealed he turned down a move to Manchester City in 2020.
“Physically I’m doing great. I’m just not very happy with the situation, but that’s normal,” Lukaku said. “I think the boss has decided to play a different formation but I have to stick at it and get on with it professionally.
“I’m not happy with the situation but it’s my job and I mustn’t give up.
“When I was at Inter, at the end of the first year, I turned down an offer from Manchester City which was higher than Chelsea’s this summer.
“So the second year after we won the Scudetto, I went to speak with club chiefs and asked for a new contract. I did it because I told myself I’m 28 years old, my family feels great in Milan, I still have my flat there, my mother and my son could come and live there and we would all feel comfortable.
“But they didn’t want to extend my contract, the possibility wasn’t there. It was tough for me to accept, because in my head I told myself that I would be able to do a few more years in Milan.”
“In my opinion, there are three absolute top teams in football – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Every player dreams of playing for one of these teams one day. So I thought if I ever had that possibility, I would sign a new contract with Inter and then go there.
“But it didn’t happen, so I told myself that there is only one team where I could possibly see myself – Chelsea. I wasn’t thinking about going there, but at one point they came in for me and so I asked [Inter boss Simone] Inzaghi to leave.
“The fact that they didn’t try to make me sign a new contract bothered me a bit, it hurt me even. If Inter offered me a new contract, I would have stayed 100 per cent. That goes without saying.”
Souness: Lukaku more than crossed the line | Nev: Love story over
Graeme Souness says Lukaku must apologise to his team-mates after the comments he made in his Sky in Italy interview led to Tuchel dropping the striker against Liverpool.
However, fellow pundit Gary Neville says an apology is not necessary if Lukaku has told the truth – but he must work hard to win back the trust of his manager and fans in what is now “rather than a love story, a transactional relationship”.
Lukaku said he hoped to go back to Inter soon because he was unhappy with how Tuchel was utilising him.
Sky Sports pundit Souness described Lukaku’s decision to say those things as “ridiculous and damaging” and backed Tuchel for leaving out the £97.5m forward, despite the enormity of the game.
In the end, Chelsea drew 2-2 with Liverpool – a result which only really benefits Premier League leaders Manchester City.
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Source : Sky Sports