‘I think he knows': TalkSPORT pundit suggests Tuchel 'doesn't like' 28-year-old Chelsea player

Dean Saunders reckons Thomas Tuchel actively dislikes Romelu Lukaku.

Speaking on talkSPORT, Saunders put forward the theory that Tuchel has a certain aversion toward the Chelsea striker.

A rollercoaster ride for Romelu

Lukaku’s relationship with the German coach probably hasn’t been the greatest since he returned to Stamford Bridge last summer.

The honeymoon period quickly faded after the Belgian missed over a month through injury and struggled to retain his place in the side.

He didn’t start a Premier League game between the end of November and December, but did score on Boxing Day and the follow-up fixture against Brighton & Hove Albion.

Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

However, the 28-year-old’s rapport with Tuchel hit rock bottom after the player’s misguided interview with Sky Italia hit the airwaves.

In a brutally honest conversation, amongst other things, Lukaku appeared to criticise the manager’s tactics.

As punishment, the centre-forward was dropped for the subsequent game at home to Liverpool.

Now, Chelsea are gearing up to face the Reds again but in the setting of Wembley for the FA Cup final.

Saunders believes Tuchel dislikes Lukaku

One of the biggest questions surrounding this potentially epic encounter is whether Lukaku will be in from the off, as he has so successfully in the past two games.

Having bagged a brace during the 2-2 draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers, followed by a smart finish against Leeds, it seems Chelsea’s club-record signing is back amongst Tuchel’s good books.

“Yes, because his goal record tells you, every two or three games, he scores,” replied Saunders when asked whether the in-form attacker should start the FA Cup final tomorrow.

“Do you think Chelsea fans will want him to start?” asked Andy Goldstein.

“Probably not.”

“Why?”

“Well they’ve watched him all season and they’ll have their thoughts on him and I’ve watched him from a distance.

“I think he knows the manager doesn’t like him. That doesn’t help. I play for the manager, if the manager liked me, you get through the bad times.”

Photo by VIRGINIE LEFOUR/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

“If you are going to use him at the weekend, is it best to use him from the start or bring him on with 30 minutes to go?” questioned Goldstein.

“£90m striker that you’ve brought in, I’d play him,” responded Saunders.

The big stars are required to turn up for the big occasions and Saturday’s showdown with Liverpool is arguably Chelsea’s biggest this year.

After a relatively underwhelming campaign, the stage really is set for Lukaku to end the term on the highest of highs.

Secure silverware in the capital and some of his previous misgivings will be forgiven.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.