Football: Emotional Lukaku's critical comments 'not intentional', says Chelsea boss Tuchel

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel (right) says Romelu Lukaku was aware of the "noise" he created and that it was the player's responsibility to "clean the mess up". PHOTO: REUTERS

(REUTERS) - Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku's comments that he was unhappy with manager Thomas Tuchel's system were "not intentional", the German said on Tuesday (Jan 4), adding that the player had apologised and returned to training.

The Belgium international, 28, was left out of the squad for the 2-2 draw against Liverpool at the weekend after telling Sky Italy that he was not happy with the "situation" at Chelsea and would like to return to Italy some time in the future.

"We have given it time to look calmly back on. He apologised and is back in the squad for today's training," Tuchel told reporters ahead of Wednesday's League Cup semi-final first leg at home to Tottenham Hotspur.

"For me, the most important thing was to understand - and clearly understand - it was not intentional. He did not do this intentionally to create this kind of noise in front of a big game."

Lukaku signed for Chelsea from Inter Milan in the close season for a club-record fee of £97.5 million (S$178.9 million).

"He is an emotional guy, he does not hold back with his opinion. It created some noise that you don't want but there are zero doubts in his commitment to the team," Tuchel added.

Fearing a backlash from fans over the striker's remarks, Tuchel said it was the player's responsibility to "clean the mess up", but added that the club would look after him.

"Well, he's very aware of what happened and what he created, but he can handle it... we are happy that he is our player and we will protect him. If someone strongly disagrees, this is about the team with everything we do," said the German.

Centre-back Trevoh Chalobah will miss the game against Spurs after picking up a hamstring injury on Sunday, while fellow defender Andreas Christensen and forward Timo Werner are both doubts.

Earlier, Spurs manager Antonio Conte said he did not want to discuss the under-fire striker's situation, as he always liked to see the best players on the pitch.

"I think it's always a good thing to play against a team that has all the players available," the Italian told reporters when asked about Lukaku, who won a Serie A title under him at Inter.

"For the people that watch the game, I think it's good to see the best players on the pitch.

"Honestly, I'd like to not speak about Romelu because Romelu now is a player of another team and I think it'd be disrespectful to speak about him and also about Chelsea."

Conte guided the Blues to the Premier League title in the 2016-17 campaign and the FA Cup crown the following season and he said his return to Stamford Bridge would be emotional.

"It's the first time after I left Chelsea as manager to come back to Stamford Bridge," he said. "I spent two amazing seasons, I created a lot of friendships at the club, we did a really important, good job and I enjoyed working there.

"Now I'm the manager of Tottenham and I want to give this club 100 per cent and more to try to improve the team. It'll be good and for sure I'll have emotion to come back to Stamford Bridge."

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