Romelu Lukaku is ‘mentally tired and overplayed’, admits Thomas Tuchel, with Chelsea team-mates Mason Mount and Jorginho suffering too… as they search for a fix for £97m forward after a six-game goal drought and Paolo Di Canio’s ‘dull’ jibes
- Thomas Tuchel says Romelu Lukaku is ‘mentally tired’ and has been ‘overplayed’
- Lukaku has failed to score in his last six games for the Premier League leaders
- The 28-year-old has come in for criticism from Italian legend Paolo Di Canio
- However, Tuchel has launched a staunch defence of his £97million striker
- Tuchel added that Mason Mount and Jorginho have also been overplayed
Thomas Tuchel fears Romelu Lukaku is suffering mental fatigue after an unyielding year with club and country, and is toying with the idea of giving him a rest.
‘It is difficult to judge whether he needs a break or is it better to keep him on the pitch,’ said Chelsea boss Tuchel, ahead of tonight’s Champions League tie against Malmo of Sweden.
‘At this moment, I feel Romelu is a bit overplayed. I think he played in too many competitions over the summer, too many competitions with his country. He played the Nations League and he is a fantastic athlete and such a competitive guy that he never takes it easy.
Thomas Tuchel claims that Romelu Lukaku is ‘mentally tired’ and has been ‘overplayed’
‘He wants to be out there and win. He wanted to have a good outcome for the European Championship with Belgium and now in the Nations League it was a huge match for him, it meant a lot personally to play for his country so he takes it seriously.
‘If that does not work well he always puts it on his shoulders. He reflects about it and I feel him mentally tired.’
In the last 12 months, Lukaku has scored 43 goals in 64 appearances for his clubs and his country. He fired Inter Milan to the Italian title although he could not help Belgium fulfil their long quest for major honours.
The 28-year-old is enduring a goal drought, having failed to score in six games for Chelsea
They went out in the quarter finals of Euro 2020 and there was more disappointment on the international stage, this month, when they blew a two-goal lead and lost to France in the last seconds of a UEFA Nations League semi-final.
Belgium manager Roberto Martinez let Lukaku leave the camp without playing in the third-place game, citing muscle fatigue.
There has also been the intensity and emotion of Lukaku’s club-record £97.5 million transfer to Chelsea, and his second spell at Stamford Bridge started with a burst of four goals in his first four games.
Tuchel believes that Lukaku has put too much responsibility on his shoulders for Belgium
He has not scored in six games since, however, but did find the net in the Nations League against France.
‘It is not that we have a huge concern,’ added Tuchel. ‘Just that he does not fully enjoy playing without a second thought. He is overplayed a little bit. This the key point, once he finds his rhythm and once he finds it a bit easier.
‘I feel for him and for others like Mason [Mount] and Jorginho, they struggle. They have a lot of weight to carry for their countries. They take it and they love it, but if you play a thousand matches a year it can become a bit heavy.’
Chelsea are top of the Premier League and unashamedly in pursuit of the biggest prizes, with the weight of expectation to brush aside teams like Brentford, who they hung on to beat 1-0 on Saturday, and Swedish champions Malmo, who have lost their first two games in Group H without scoring and conceding seven.
The Chelsea boss said the same also rings true for Mason Mount (left) and Jorginho (right)
‘I am a big fan of quality not quantity,’ said Tuchel. ‘There is simply too much football and too many different competitions.’
Next month, his players will depart again for international fixtures and Chelsea have the FIFA Club World Cup to squeeze in, delayed from December and probably happening early next year.
‘There is no shame in having a tight match against Brentford and a late winner against Southampton,’ said Tuchel. ‘It is very important we don’t feel ashamed and are too critical of ourselves.
‘There is still room to improve, I agree, be we lack a bit of form, a bit of freshness. We lack a bit of joy and the key reason is not the mentality, not the attitude. It is nothing else but that we are travelling through time zones, coming from planes and changing hotels. It can be tiring.’