Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel outlines why Romelu Lukaku is failing after record £100m move

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Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has told Romelu Lukaku he must rediscover his ‘spark’ to reclaim a starting spot this season. Lukaku returned to Chelsea in a club-record £100million deal last summer but has struggled for form and fitness, losing his first-choice status as a result.

After booking their place in the FA Cup final, the Blues host Arsenal at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Wednesday. Ahead of the London derby, Tuchel has suggested why Havertz has leapfrogged Lukaku in the striker pecking order.

He told reporters: “All he needs is that spark. He maybe would’ve been a natural starter against Crystal Palace given the minutes Kai has played and the matches recently, but after a period of injury, he lacked the fitness for matches. I don’t point the finger at him. It’s just a fact.

“Compare the difference in Brentford and Real Madrid, and Southampton and Real Madrid. You see the effort we put in to become a winning team, and this is what we need. Romelu should’ve had a goal against Real Madrid and Crystal Palace, but if he plays, we need all that he has.”

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Lukaku flourished into one of Europe’s most prolific strikers at Inter Milan, registering 64 goals and 17 assists in 95 games across two seasons under Antonio Conte. But the 28-year-old has failed to live up to expectations since his blockbuster return to Chelsea, netting just 10 times in 35 appearances this term.

His inconsistent form and injury struggles have seen Havertz reclaim his spot as first-choice frontman, and he’s repaid Tuchel’s faith with big goals in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Lukaku squandered guilt-edged chances after coming on against Real Madrid and Crystal Palace last week.

Chelsea are currently five points above Tottenham Hotspur in third, with two games in hand. However, Tuchel has refused to suggest his side will take the foot off the gas ahead of a ‘crucial’ run of fixtures, starting with Arsenal’s visit.

“I’m not sure we don’t become second or fourth. So we will fight hard. We have a crucial four matches coming in a short period of time with Arsenal, West Ham, Man United and Everton,” Tuchel continued. “These are crucial matches for us given the task and what we don’t want to achieve. It seems like things are pretty safe, but things can change so, so quickly.”

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