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The most worrying sign yet for transfer disaster Lukaku

Romelu Lukaku’s ill-fated return to Chelsea continues to lurch from crisis to crisis.

If things started off promisingly for the striker following his record €115 million (£97.5m) transfer from Inter in the summer, Lukaku has rarely found himself in the news for positive reasons since.

He suffered from injuries and a goal drought in the autumn, then at the turn of the year he gave an interview to the Italian media in which he openly criticised Chelsea’s use of him. That storm was ultimately ridden out, but now back in the starting XI, he is showing no signs of becoming the player that his club bought.

Indeed, during Saturday’s Premier League match against Crystal Palace, he touched the ball only seven times – including once from kick off. This was a record-low figure for a player who played the full duration of match since records began.

Now Tuchel admits that he is at a loss in the situation he finds himself.

Tuchel at a loss on Lukaku

Speaking before Tuesday’s Champions League meeting with Lille, the German commented: “What can I do? I don’t know. We have to deal with it.

“The data is out there and the data speaks a certain language. He was not involved in our game, it’s sometimes like this with strikers. If they struggle a bit with self-confidence, to find the space and to get involved against a good defensive side, it can be like this.

“He’s in the spotlight but we will protect him.”

Although it would be unfair to take Tuchel’s comments out of context – he was speaking about the media outcry over Lukaku’s performance, after all – it should be concerning that he apparently has no answers to get more from his star signing.

Lukaku, after all, is averaging fewer than 29 touches per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season. Indeed, rather than becoming more involved, Lukaku is actually becoming less involved: three of the four matches in which he has touched the ball the most came within a month of his return.

Little wonder, then, ahead of Chelsea’s hosting of Lille in the Champions League, Tuchel is unconcerned with what the media is saying: he is too preoccupied with finding an answer to the questions that are being asked of him.

If he cannot find a solution, Lukaku surely cannot last at Chelsea.

 

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