Lukaku unrest 'too noisy' to face Liverpool, says Tuchel

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Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku (AFP/Glyn KIRK)
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Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said Romelu Lukaku's comments that he is unhappy at Stamford Bridge came too close to Sunday's huge Premier League clash with Liverpool to include the Belgium attacker.

Lukaku, who returned to the Blues for a club record £98 million ($132 million) in August after two successful seasons with Inter Milan, was dropped from Tuchel's squad for the match.

In an interview with Sky Italy, recorded in mid-December but only aired earlier this week, Lukaku also admitted he would like to return to Inter in the near future.

"The thing got too big, too noisy close to the match," Tuchel told Sky Sports. "I decided to protect the preparation of the match.

"We've spoken twice. He spoke to main players and it is too close to the match. It's too big, we delayed the decision and we thought why we are delaying it? We need full focus.

"It's in my opinion easier if he's not in the squad. For sure It's difficult, but in my opinion the right decision to make."

Lukaku was expected to be the final piece in the jigsaw for Chelsea when he joined the Champions League winners in a blockbuster transfer.

The 28-year-old scored on his debut against Arsenal in August among four goals in his first four games.

But he then scored just once in his next 12 appearances either side of suffering an ankle injury in October.

When Lukaku returned after five weeks out, he was unable to regain his place and looked sluggish when he did feature from the bench.

"Physically I am fine. But I'm not happy with the situation at Chelsea," said Lukaku in the interview.

"Tuchel has chosen to play with another system. I won't give up, I'll be professional."

The former Manchester United striker also tested positive for coronavirus in December to further slow his return to the starting line-up.

However, Lukaku has had a recent upturn in form, scoring in his last two Premier League appearances against Aston Villa and Brighton.

After winning only one of their last four league games, Chelsea trail 11 points behind leaders Manchester City and are only one point ahead of third-placed Liverpool.

The Reds have their own issues ahead of what appears a must-win match for either side if they are to fight for the title.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is isolating along with Alisson Becker, Roberto Firmino and Joel Matip, having returned suspected positive coronavirus tests.

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