Romelu Lukaku told Sky in Italy earlier this month, “The boss has opted to play a different system, but I have to stick at it.” The Belgian asked Inter to accept Chelsea’s offer in the summer, but has since apologized to the Serie A club’s fans for the manner of his £97.5 million leaving.
Romelu Lukaku expressed his dissatisfaction with the situation at Chelsea to Sky in Italy earlier this month, criticising Thomas Tuchel’s system and expressing interest in returning to Inter while still playing at a “strong enough level.”
The 28-year-old left Inter for Chelsea in the summer for a club-record £97.5 million, following a two-year spell at the club that saw them win Serie A.
Romelu Lukaku has scored seven goals in 18 appearances since re-signing for Chelsea, a decade after he first joined the club, but was limited by an ankle issue before contracting Covid-19.
As a result, Lukaku has only played 90 minutes in the Premier League once in his previous 13 appearances, the most recent of which was a 1-1 draw against Brighton.
“Physically I’m doing great. I’m just not very happy with the situation, but that’s normal,” Lukaku said. “I think the boss 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.”
Lukaku joined Inter in 2019 after leaving Manchester United and scored 34 goals in 51 games in his first season in Italy.
In 2020-21, the former West Bromwich Albion and Everton striker scored 30 goals, including 24 in Serie A as Inter won their first Scudetto in 11 years.
Lukaku reportedly advised Inter to accept Chelsea’s advances after an £85 million bid was rebuffed in early August.
Chelsea countered with a £97.5 million offer and finalized Lukaku’s signing on August 12, and the Belgian has expressed sorrow for the way in which he left Inter before expressing confidence that he will return one day.
Lukaku added: “I don’t think any of it should have happened the way it did. The way I left Inter and the way I communicated with the Inter fans. I’m annoyed about that because it’s not the right time now but it wasn’t the right time when I left either.
“I always said that I love Inter and I’ll play for them again. I really hope so. It was in Italy that I fell in love.
“Now is the moment to talk about it and tell people what occurred, without making any negative comments about anyone, because I’m not like that.”
“I want to really apologise to the Inter fans because I don’t think I should have left Inter the way I did. I should have spoken to you guys first, especially after everything you did for me, for my family, my mum, my son. That is something I will never forget.
“I hope from the bottom of my heart to go back to Inter and not at the end of my career but when I’m still at a good enough level to win more trophies.”
The timeline as tensions rise between Lukaku and Tuchel
Lukaku was an injury concern after withdrawing from Belgium duty due to “muscle exhaustion” in early October, and although playing 77 minutes against Brentford on October 16, an ankle sprain against Malmo four days later forced him to miss time.
Tuchel had already stated before the Malmo match that Lukaku was “mentally exhausted,” blaming a lack of goals on the fact that he was playing too much football.
Lukaku was in the matchday squad for four league matches, coming on as a substitute in each of them – against Manchester United, Watford, West Ham, and Leeds – racking up 77 minutes but failing to find the target.
He started and scored in Chelsea’s 3-3 draw with Zenit in their final Champions League group game, but following a brief cameo against Leeds, he missed three games due to Covid, including league matches against Everton and Wolves and the Carabao Cup encounter against Brentford.
On Boxing Day, the forward’s first encounter after his return from Covid was against Aston Villa, where he came off the bench at halftime to trigger a 3-1 comeback.
“We just put the players in but we don’t know [what the impact is]. Today, he was a game-changer.
“There is no doubt he is super-important. Romelu will be a key player. Last time he started for us was in October, not because of quality or that we have any doubts we are better without him. He is unlucky to get injured.
“When he was struggling to come back in the schedule we have, he caught Covid. It [45 minutes] was more than the fitness and medical department recommended for him but we thought we could take the risk and be more offensive.”