The manager of Tottenham Hotspur, Antonio Conte, is looking forward to facing his former player Romelu Lukaku at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.
Recall that in 2019, Antonio Conte lured Romelu Lukaku from Manchester United to Inter Milan and they won the 2020-2021 Italian Serie A title together before they both parted ways last summer. Conte resigned as the coach of Inter Milan and joined Tottenham Hotspur months later. While Lukaku returned to Chelsea, a club he played for between 2011 and 2014.
The Carabao Cup semi-final match between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge scheduled to kick off at 20:45 on Wednesday, January 5, marked the first time that Antonio Conte would return to Chelsea, a club he coached for almost two seasons before he was sacked in 2018.
Aside from reuniting with Chelsea’s fans at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, Conte wishes to face the best of Chelsea’s squad which includes Lukaku. However, that might not work since the Belgian striker is currently having a dispute with Chelsea’s coach Thomas Tuchel.
Recall that recently, Lukaku told Sky in Italy that he was not happy at Chelsea and wished to return to Inter Milan in the nearest future. He also added that he has a problem with the system coach Thomas Tuchel decided to adopt when he arrived at Chelsea last summer.
The fact that Lukaku went public with such comments infuriated coach Thomas Tuchel and the club’s board. Hence, the Belgian striker had to be sidelined ahead of the league game between the club and Liverpool on January 2.
On Monday, January 3, coach Thomas Tuchel and the Belgian striker had a meeting to discuss the issues raised in Lukaku’s interview with Sky and it was concluded that the club would not punish the club’s record signing by getting rid of him.
Reports from the meeting claimed that Lukaku is not expected to leave the club in the next two transfer windows. Also, Lukaku has reportedly clarified that the report that he wants to leave Chelsea for Tottenham Hotspur was not valid.
Also read: Romelu Lukaku might force a loan move from Chelsea to Tottenham as his heart is still at Inter Milan
However, he is expected to remain out of the squad for a couple of more games as a form of punishment for his unguided comments against the coach’s tactics.
Ahead of his first visit to Stamford since he left the club in 2018, coach Antonio Conte insisted that he does not have anything to prove to Chelsea, adding that he has coached a couple of other clubs since he left Chelsea.
“I think in my position, I mustn’t prove anything to anyone”, coach Conte said.
“I am a manager with experience and I have continued to do an important job in other teams…
“It will be great to come back to Stamford Bridge. It’s the first time after I left Chelsea.
“What I can say is I spent two amazing seasons, I created a lot of friendships in the club. We did a really important, good job. I also enjoyed the work there.
“I have to tell thanks to Chelsea because they gave me the possibility to work in England. It will be good and emotional to come back to Stamford Bridge.
“But now I am the manager of Tottenham and I want to give this club 100 percent.”
On his wish to play against Lukaku at Stamford Bridge, coach Conte added: “I think that it’s always a good thing to play against a team where all the players are available,” Conte said. “For all the people who watch the game, I think it’s good to see the best players on the pitch.
“[But] honestly, I’d like not to speak about Romelu because Romelu now is at another team. I think it would disrespectful to speak about him and also about Chelsea.”
"I know for sure it'll be emotional to go back to Stamford Bridge" 😭— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) January 4, 2022
On Wednesday, Antonio Conte returns to Chelsea for the first time since leaving in 2018 👋 pic.twitter.com/ryPVT7keX7