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How Lukaku went from Thomas Tuchel’s dream jigsaw piece to the Premier League’s biggest ever flop

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Simply 10 months and 9 days since his dream £97.5million homecoming, the second chapter of Romelu Lukaku‘s doomed Chelsea story is nearly as good as over.

Thomas Tuchel was meant to have discovered the lacking piece of his Blues jigsaw when the Belgian striker, recent from inspiring Inter Milan to their first Scudetto in a decade, returned to west London for a club-record payment final August.

However now, lower than a 12 months later, Inter are on the verge of re-signing the Premier League‘s second most costly participant on mortgage for peanuts after a disastrous first season again at Stamford Bridge. 

Just 10 months after returning for £97.5m, Romelu Lukaku is already on his way out of Chelsea

Simply 10 months after returning for £97.5m, Romelu Lukaku is already on his manner out of Chelsea

Lukaku is set to rejoin Inter Milan on loan after a disastrous season back at Stamford Bridge

Lukaku is about to rejoin Inter Milan on mortgage after a disastrous season again at Stamford Bridge

So how did it come to this?

Whereas the blame does not lie completely at his door, with Tuchel additionally partly accountable, it’s exhausting to argue that Lukaku wasn’t the architect of his personal downfall in SW6. And forward of his departure, Sportsmail has taken a more in-depth take a look at why his second Chelsea stint went so dramatically unsuitable.

There have been no crimson flags or alarm bells in anyway when Lukaku swaggered again into Stamford Bridge as an Italian champion final August. The truth is, it was fairly the other.

He had beforehand departed Chelsea as a boy in 2014, leaving to hitch Everton following a profitable mortgage spell at Goodison Park, but after scoring 193 targets in 357 video games for the Toffees, Manchester United and Inter, and profitable Serie A with the latter, he returned as a seasoned, established centre-forward on the peak of his powers.

‘I’m completely happy and blessed to be again at this excellent membership,’ Lukaku mentioned on the time. ‘The connection I’ve with this membership means a lot to me, as you already know. I’ve supported Chelsea as a child and now to be again and attempt to assist them win extra titles is a tremendous feeling.’ 

There were no red flags when the Belgian striker got his second Blues stint up and running

There have been no crimson flags when the Belgian striker bought his second Blues stint up and working

He initially scored four goals in as many games to hit the ground running back in west London

He initially scored 4 targets in as many video games to hit the bottom working again in west London

Lukaku's return looked like turning Chelsea from top-four regulars to serious title contenders

Lukaku’s return regarded like turning Chelsea from top-four regulars to critical title contenders

Thomas Tuchel appeared to have found the final piece of his Blues jigsaw in attack

Thomas Tuchel appeared to have discovered the ultimate piece of his Blues jigsaw in assault

It had solely been three months since Tuchel’s males received the Champions League however the normal consensus was that signing Lukaku would full their transformation from top-four regulars to title contenders. Regardless of their success on the again finish of 2020-21, deploying Kai Havertz as a false 9 was not seen because the long-term reply to hassle Manchester Metropolis and Liverpool. 

Almost £100million was due to this fact spent on Lukaku, and at first their seismic funding appeared justified when his first 4 outings introduced as many targets, together with a debut strike away at rivals Arsenal. Initially, the transfer regarded a match made in heaven for each events.

But Lukaku and Chelsea’s honeymoon interval rapidly started to fizzle out, with a purpose at dwelling to Zenit St Petersburg within the Champions League on September 14 proving his final till he scored in opposition to the identical opposition three months later.

After an preliminary run of six matches and not using a purpose had brought about a slight concern, Lukaku injured his ankle throughout a conflict with Malmo on October 20 and was compelled to spend the following month on the sidelines. It could finally mark the start of his demise as a Chelsea participant.

The 6ft 3in frontman returned on the finish of November however didn’t slot straight again into Tuchel’s beginning plans. As a substitute, reverting again to Havertz as a false 9 had introduced 20 targets and 6 wins in seven video games, that means he had no intention of messing with a profitable system.

Lukaku was made to attend till December 12 for his subsequent begin, when he bought again on the scoresheet away at Zenit, earlier than Covid-19 once more dominated him out of motion in mid-December. 

But an injury sustained at the end of October marked the beginning of his downfall last season

However an damage sustained on the finish of October marked the start of his downfall final season

Despite returning a month later, Lukaku failed to work his way back into Tuchel's starting XI

Regardless of returning a month later, Lukaku did not work his manner again into Tuchel’s beginning XI

By the point he recovered, Chelsea’s season was hitting a snag, with a collection of Covid instances and accidents derailing their title bid and permitting Metropolis and Liverpool to drag clear. That they had solely claimed two wins out of 5 when a visit to Aston Villa got here on Boxing Day, and after entering into stage on the break Tuchel launched his big-money signing for the second half. 

What performed out over the following 45 minutes regarded like a turning level in Lukaku’s season. He first edged Chelsea in entrance, glancing dwelling a terrific header to interrupt his three-month Premier League drought, earlier than racing by on purpose and profitable a penalty for Jorginho to transform late on.

The £97.5million man was again to his good, bullying greatest and, as we neared the second half of the season, there have been excessive hopes that he might kick on and luxuriate in a robust finish to the marketing campaign – particularly when he adopted it up with a second purpose in as many video games at dwelling to Brighton three days later.

Nonetheless, simply as he was starting to regain Tuchel’s belief on the pitch, Lukaku had already set the wheels in movement for an explosive transfer which might rock Chelsea’s season and produce him proper again to sq. one.

He finally got back up and running with an influential performance off the bench at Aston Villa

He lastly bought again up and working with an influential efficiency off the bench at Aston Villa

Lukaku followed it up with another goal against Brighton, but behind the scenes he had set the wheels in motion for an explosive move

Lukaku adopted it up with one other purpose in opposition to Brighton, however behind the scenes he had set the wheels in movement for an explosive transfer

‘Bodily I’m superb. However I am not pleased with the scenario at Chelsea,’ Lukaku advised Sky Italia on the finish of December. ‘Tuchel has chosen to play with one other system – I will not hand over, I will be skilled. I’m not pleased with the scenario however I’m skilled – and I am unable to hand over now.

‘I actually, genuinely from the underside of my coronary heart hope to return again to Inter, not on the finish of my profession, however whereas I’m nonetheless on the stage to win extra trophies.’

Performed earlier than his revival away at Villa, a disgruntled Lukaku questioned Tuchel’s determination to go away him out of the aspect and flirted with former employers at Inter in a bombshell interview which irked his supervisor and infuriated Chelsea supporters.

The Stamford Bridge trustworthy wasted no time in berating their report signing, who had poured fuel onto a hearth which seemed to be fading. The feedback had been seen as disrespectful, divisive and disloyal to the membership, that means it did not take them lengthy to name for his departure.

Much more damningly for Lukaku, Aim reported on the time that Sky Italia had launched the interview three weeks after it was first recorded. This implies he had hit out at Tuchel and expressed his unhappiness whereas Chelsea trailed Premier League leaders Metropolis by a mere two factors – in no way a depressing setting to be in. 

His bombshell interview with Sky Italia, in which he questioned Tuchel and hinted at a return to Inter, was released at the end of December - three weeks after being recorded

His bombshell interview with Sky Italia, through which he questioned Tuchel and hinted at a return to Inter, was launched on the finish of December – three weeks after being recorded

Lukaku had put himself earlier than the workforce. His interview dominated headlines and disrupted Tuchel’s preparations at a time when all consideration ought to have been centered in the direction of catching Metropolis and Liverpool. As a substitute, the Blues boss had no alternative however to drop his in-form star when the latter visited west London on January 2.

Tuchel was merely making a press release by exiling him for that fixture, exhibiting Lukaku who was boss and reminding his workforce that such antics will all the time be reprimanded. As soon as he had served his punishment, although, the outspoken striker was again in his beginning XI.

Regardless of his controversial interview Lukaku was supplied an unlikely second likelihood by Tuchel, who began him of their subsequent 4 league outings in opposition to Manchester Metropolis, Brighton, Tottenham and Crystal Palace. Chelsea registered two victories and took seven factors out of 12, but Lukaku went and not using a single purpose involvement in 250 minutes of soccer.

The nadir of his season from a enjoying perspective got here away at Palace on February 19, when he broke the report for the bottom variety of touches by an outfield participant in a Premier League match with a measly seven. Though Tuchel had offered him with a transparent vote of confidence, it was turning into clear that Lukaku couldn’t match into his system or gel together with his fellow attackers.  

Tuchel dropped his big-money recruit from the squad for their next fixture against Liverpool

Tuchel dropped his big-money recruit from the squad for his or her subsequent fixture in opposition to Liverpool

Though when he returned to the side it was clear Lukaku no longer suited Chelsea's system

Although when he returned to the aspect it was clear Lukaku now not suited Chelsea’s system

He broke the record for fewest number of touches in a Premier League game at Crystal Palace

He broke the report for fewest variety of touches in a Premier League recreation at Crystal Palace

‘What can I do? I do not know. We now have to cope with it,’ Tuchel mentioned after the sport.

‘The info is on the market and the information speaks a sure language. He was not concerned in our recreation, it is generally like this with strikers. In the event that they wrestle a bit with self-confidence, to search out the house and to get entangled in opposition to a great defensive aspect, it may be like this.’  

One month previous to that sorry afternoon at Selhurst Park he had been noticed arguing with Moroccan winger Hakim Ziyech throughout a 1-1 draw in opposition to Brighton. As they left the pitch at half-time, Ziyech coated his mouth whereas engaged in a heated dialogue with Lukaku, who gestured animatedly and appeared to demand the ball into his ft. 

‘It is regular that they speak, it is regular that they aren’t completely happy, it is regular that they do not prefer it if we are saying that we wish extra from them, it is regular,’ Tuchel mentioned after the pair’s on-pitch row. 

Nonetheless, the disagreement symbolised Lukaku’s lack of cohesion together with his team-mates, which might forestall him scoring one other Premier League purpose till Might.

If studies from soccer journalist Fabrizio Romano are right, Lukaku had already made up his thoughts about leaving Chelsea when he squabbled with Ziyech on the south coast. 

The previous Inter man is claimed to have angled for a return to Milan in January, setting his sights on a swift SW6 exit amid the controversy of his Sky Italia interview. In the long run a winter switch was not doable, however three months later Nerazzurri boss Simone Inzaghi acquired an attention-grabbing name.

In keeping with Corriere dello Sport, Inzaghi answered the telephone to a curious Lukaku at 8:30am on April 5, the Inter supervisor’s birthday. And after wishing him many completely happy returns he turned the dialog to a possible San Siro return.

Lukaku reportedly made contact with Inter boss Simone Inzaghi over a potential return in April

Lukaku reportedly made contact with Inter boss Simone Inzaghi over a possible return in April

One day later he then missed two glorious chances as Chelsea were beaten by Real Madrid

At some point later he then missed two wonderful probabilities as Chelsea had been crushed by Actual Madrid

The wantaway ahead reportedly requested Inzaghi what it might take for him to rejoin his workforce, in a dialog which passed off 24 hours earlier than Chelsea’s pivotal Champions League quarter-final first leg in opposition to Actual Madrid.

With the Blues trailing 3-1 in that first leg, Lukaku got here off the bench and missed two wonderful probabilities from shut vary to cut back the deficit forward of their journey to Spain. In hindsight, it’s clear to see his thoughts was elsewhere.

Other than targets in routine FA Cup victories over Luton and Middlesbrough, in addition to in opposition to inferior opposition on the Membership World Cup, Lukaku had not produced a significant strike since December as we reached the ultimate month of the marketing campaign. But extremely, it was in Might when he produced an surprising late revival, scoring three targets in as many league video games to propel himself again into favour forward of an FA Cup last battle with Liverpool.

Maybe extra telling in regards to the scarce choices in Tuchel’s assault, Lukaku earned himself a begin at Wembley in opposition to the chances. Although in what probably proved the ultimate nail within the coffin for him as a Chelsea participant, he was hooked forward of extra-time after squandering his greatest probabilities on the day.

On the entire, Lukaku following up a late rise in kind with an FA Cup last stinker epitomised his anti-climatic return.

Lukaku's anti-climatic Chelsea return was pretty much summed up by his late surge in form

Lukaku’s anti-climatic Chelsea return was just about summed up by his late surge in kind

He followed up a run of three goals in as many games with a poor display in the FA Cup final

He adopted up a run of three targets in as many video games with a poor show within the FA Cup last

So after netting simply 15 targets in 44 appearances, Lukaku is now set to wave goodbye to Chelsea once more as he nears a transfer again to Inter. Although this time round there can be no lingering questions of ‘what if’ when he heads out the door.

His doomed return was a results of numerous components. Firstly, the participant’s ego behind the scenes didn’t assist his trigger. Lukaku allegedly sees himself on the identical stage because the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe, a daring stance he did not justify over the course of the season.

The damage that put him out of motion on the finish of October additionally allowed Tuchel to conclude that his assault was higher suited with out him. That they had extra depth, motion and fluency in the identical trend because the workforce which grew to become European champions the earlier season.

Tuchel tried to adapt their costly arrival to his system however Lukaku was unresponsive, which might be put all the way down to the coach’s failed man-management simply as a lot as his personal poor perspective and stubbornness.

Lukaku has spoken about his desire to play dealing with forwards, just for Tuchel to make use of him as extra of a goal man with directions to carry the ball up and produce others into play. Additionally it is believed there was some confusion behind closed doorways as to why Havertz was granted better freedom upfront than their report purchase.

The pair had already encountered issues lengthy earlier than that notorious Sky Italia interview, and when it resulted in his demotion in opposition to Liverpool their relationship grew to become fractured past restore. 

Lukaku and Tuchel's relationship was fractured beyond repair after the Sky Italia controversy

Lukaku and Tuchel’s relationship was fractured past restore after the Sky Italia controversy

But it is the player who will now go down as the Premier League's worst ever signing

However it’s the participant who will now go down because the Premier League’s worst ever signing

Because of this, Tuchel was unable to convey the very best out of Lukaku as his Chelsea fortunes plummeted to all-time low within the second half of the season, together with his presence because the spearhead of their assault largely invisible.

The choice to prise him away from Milan was understood to have been Chelsea’s versus Tuchel, who was as an alternative eager to focus on a deal for Lewandowski. Lukaku most certainly knew he was not the supervisor’s first alternative and was compelled to attempt to make issues work, however ultimately that did not occur. 

There are numerous the explanation why what ought to have been a dream reunion is now ending in a nightmarish divorce after simply over 10 months. 

Nonetheless, when it is all mentioned and achieved solely Lukaku, the £97.5million signing from hell, will bear the brunt of being the Premier League’s costliest mistake.






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