Thomas Tuchel has confirmed that Romelu Lukaku has apologised for taking part in an interview with Sky Italia in which he declared that he would like to leave Chelsea and re-join Inter.
Lukaku was dropped by Tuchel for Chelsea’s 2-2 draw at home to Liverpool last weekend, but he could be back in contention to face Tottenham Hotspur in the Carabao Cup semi-finals, with the first leg set to take place on Wednesday, January 5.
“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 during Tuesday’s pre-match press conference.
“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 sounded positive about Lukaku being reintegrated into the Chelsea squad, he stressed that it is now down to the 28-year-old to perform.
“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.”
What did Lukaku say?
“Physically I’m doing great. I’m just not very happy with the situation, but that’s normal,” Lukaku told Sky Italia.
“I think the boss [Tuchel] 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 head coach 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 percent. That goes without saying.”