How Lukaku's Chelsea Dream Became A Nightmare Due To Tantrums And Tactics
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How Lukaku’s Chelsea Dream Became A Nightmare Due To Tantrums And Tactics

Romelu Lukaku was hailed as a dream come true when he first joined Chelsea, but less than a year later, the Belgian striker is likely to return to Inter Milan as one of the most costly busts in Premier League history.

When Lukaku joined Chelsea from Inter Milan for a club-record of £97.5 million ($119 million), he was heralded as the last piece in Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea jigsaw.

 

How Lukaku's Chelsea Dream Became A Nightmare Due To Tantrums And Tactics

How Lukaku’s Chelsea Dream Became A Nightmare Due To Tantrums And Tactics

But in the 29-year-catastrophic old’s second stint with the Blues, everything that could go wrong did.

After just one season, Lukaku’s reputation has deteriorated to the point that Tuchel has severed connections with the former Manchester United and Everton striker.

After negotiating a rumored eight million euro ($8.4 million) loan fee for Lukaku, Inter is anticipated to formalize his return to the San Siro shortly.

Given his fervent desire to leave Stamford Bridge, Lukaku is rumored to have taken a wage reduction.

With 15 goals in 44 games, he finished the season as Chelsea’s leading scorer, although that number does not adequately capture his miserable tenure in west London.

Lukaku only scored eight goals in the Premier League, and Todd Boehly, Chelsea’s new co-owner, was fast to approve his probable departure.

He becomes the newest high-profile striker to fail to live up to a high price tag at Chelsea, including Fernando Torres, Andriy Shevchenko, Alvaro Morata, and Chris Sutton.

After firing Inter to the Serie A title in 2021, Lukaku’s combination of power and predatory finishing should have been the key to a dominant period for Chelsea, who won the Champions League just months before his signing.

Lukaku billed the move, on a lucrative five-year contract, as an emotional homecoming after previously playing for the club he supported as a boy from 2011 to 2014.

“I’m happy and blessed to be back at this wonderful club. To try to help them win more titles is an amazing feeling,” Lukaku said at the time.

Damning Indictment

Lukaku’s early enthusiasm fuelled four goals in his first four appearances, bullying the Arsenal defence in a display of the power that could overwhelm any opponent if he was in the mood.

However, Lukaku’s attitude quickly turned sour as a run of six matches without a goal raised concerns about his ability to adapt to Tuchel’s system.

Hampered by an ankle injury and a bout of the coronavirus, Lukaku lost his place to Kai Havertz.

Lukaku was unhappy with the way Tuchel was using him, a feeling his former Inter boss Antonio Conte gave voice to when he said the German didn’t “understand” how best to utilise the striker.

While Tuchel must take a share of the blame, Lukaku destroyed his hopes of turning the tide with an incendiary interview in December.

Lukaku told an Italian television channel:

“Physically I am fine. But I’m not happy with the situation at Chelsea. Tuchel has chosen to play with another system,”

“I really, genuinely from the bottom of my heart hope to come back to Inter.”

Tuchel was understandably furious and dropped Lukaku for Liverpool’s visit to the Bridge just days after the interview was aired.

Lukaku was forced to apologize to Chelsea and the club’s fans.

When he eventually got back in the side, his body language was dreadful as he moped through matches and argued with team-mate Hakim Ziyech during a game against Brighton.

Lukaku’s wretched season reached breaking point at Crystal Palace in February when he broke the record for the lowest number of touches (seven) by an outfield player in a Premier League match.

Tuchel said in a damning indictment:

“It’s not about the system. For him, it changes nothing. The data is out there and the data speaks a certain language,”

After four months without a Premier League goal, Lukaku scored three in two games towards the end of the season, earning a place in the FA Cup final team against Liverpool.

Yet Lukaku’s limp display as Chelsea lost on penalties at Wembley was a fitting epitaph to his turbulent year.

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