Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has refuted reports that striker Romelu Lukaku is unhappy about returning to Stamford Bridge following the international break.
Lukaku, who re-joined Chelsea for a second spell in the summer from Inter Milan, has failed to deliver for the Blues this season and has often found himself playing second fiddle to the likes of Kai Havertz.
Tuchel, who is preparing his Chelsea side to face Brentford tomorrow, does not agree that Lukaku wants out of the club and believes the goal he scored in their FA Cup win over Middlesbrough has given the Belgian renewed confidence.
‘We don’t reflect on it (reports that Lukaku wants out),’ said Tuchel. ‘We can’t talk to players. We can’t sell or buy. So at the moment, we don’t even think about it. These are the players we have and Romelu still plays a big part, not the part maybe he wants to play and I understand that.
‘But he used his time (off) also to deconnect a little bit. I feel him very motivated and very strong in training. Very involved when we do the games. He is a winner and will stay a winner. He will stay important for us. He had a good match against Middlesbrough that was a big boost for us and important for him.’
Lukaku has scored only five goals in 19 league appearances for Chelsea this season as he searches for rhythm and a run of games in the team.
In December the 28-year-old sparked controversy after speaking to Sky Italy about his unhappiness at the club and how he did not want to leave Inter in the first place.
‘I wasn’t thinking about going there (Chelsea),’ he said. ‘But at one point they came in for me and so I asked (Inter manager Simone) Inzaghi to leave.
“The fact that they didn’t try to make me sign a new contract bothered me a bit, it hurt me even. If Inter offered me a new contract, I would have stayed 100 per cent. That goes without saying.’
Lukaku became Chelsea’s record signing when he joined the club from Inter in the summer for just under £100 million.