Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel admits he is questioning how to manage Romelu Lukaku amid serious concerns over the striker’s workload in a scenario similar to Cristiano Ronaldo’s at Manchester United
When Romelu Lukaku returned to Stamford Bridge this summer, he was billed as the missing piece of the Chelsea puzzle.
The Belgian arrived back in the Premier League in a £97.5million transfer after a fruitful two seasons with Inter Milan during which he cemented his status as one of Europe’s best strikers.
Lukaku made an instant impact, scoring four goals in the first four appearances of his second spell with the Blues.
However, the 28-year-old’s brilliant start fizzled out and he has failed to find the back of the net in his last six games.
Just as it was last season, Chelsea’s strength has been in their defence rather than their attack in recent fixtures.
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Lukaku’s mini-drought is disappointing given his mammoth price tag and Tuchel has pointed the finger at the congested fixture schedule to explain his recent goal-shy form.
“We are in the process of adapting to each other and in my opinion, I feel Romelu is being overplayed,” said Tuchel ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League clash with Malmo on Wednesday.
“I think he played too many competitions over the summer, with his national team and now the Nations League.”
Lukaku reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020, where Belgium were defeated by eventual winners Italy, and Tuchel is questioning whether he needs a break from first-team action.
The Chelsea boss added: “It is difficult to judge. Does he (Lukaku) really need a break, or is it better to keep him on the pitch? The next national break is coming but this is what I feel particularly for him, and some other players too.”
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Lukaku’s situation has clear parallels to that of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United.
Red Devils boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is understandably reluctant to rotate his side’s talismanic forward but, unlike Tuchel, chose to do so for a Premier League clash earlier this month.
Unfortunately for the Norwegian, the decision backfired as United were held to a 1-1 draw by the Toffees with Ronaldo unable to make an impact as a substitute.
Tuchel will be loathed to risk sacrificing points in the Premier League title race by benching Lukaku in similar fashion, especially given Chelsea’s lack of depth at centre-forward.
But the German’s concerning admission over Lukaku’s physical condition means he may be forced to hand him a rest, just as Solskjaer did with Ronaldo.