Chelsea v Liverpool pictures
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Chelsea are reportedly preparing to slap Romelu Lukaku with a hefty £420,000 fine for the controversial interview which made headlines last week. Talks with manager Thomas Tuchel on Monday appear to have averted disaster, but the Belgian may not escape without punishment for his comments which left fans – and reportedly team-mates – perplexed.
Things were looking up for Lukaku when he followed up his injury lay-off with goals against Aston Villa and Brighton.
After suffering a twisted ankle in October, the Belgian will surely have been eager to build on his goal tally after making a lucrative £98million summer switch from Inter Milan.
And while his two recent strikes took him up to seven for the campaign, a contentious interview with Sky Italia knocked him back in his quest to earn the adoration of Blues fans.
There was already mild concern that, in light of a goalless run, Lukaku may not hit the heights he did at Inter where he bagged at least 30 goals in two successive seasons.
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Concern turned to outrage, however, when comments surfaced suggesting he was not happy at Chelsea and he would be keen on a return to Inter Milan while still in his prime.
At 28-years-old, that would suggest that he only sees his Stamford Bridge spell as a short-term motive, rather than firing them to silverware for years to come.
Tuchel did not take kindly to the comments, dropping him from the squad to face Liverpool and arranging talks for Monday.
Since then, Fabrizio Romano has claimed that the pair have put their differences aside, and the Belgian will be going nowhere in January.
His eyebrow-raising comments may not go without punishment though, as Repubblica claim that the striker will be forced to cough up a whopping £420,000 for his starring role in the drama.
Depending on the report, that figure constitutes between one week and two weeks’ wages for the former Manchester United man.
With the situation seemingly resolved, however, Lukaku could be back in action on Wednesday night as the Blues face Tottenham in their EFL Cup semi-final first-leg clash.
Red Devils hero Gary Neville provided a mixed evaluation of the saga, showing mercy to the frontman while accepting that Chelsea may be correct to dish out punishment.
“I think we have to applaud Romelu Lukaku in some ways for being brave enough to come out and speak the truth,” he told Sky Sports.
“If I was a Chelsea fan, a Chelsea player, a Chelsea coach, I’d feel really disappointed, particularly when they’ve invested so much in him.
“What he does have to apologise for is that he has taken away from the preparation for a match.
“There’s never a good time for it, but before you’re playing one of the best teams in the country on a Sunday in a massive match, the timing wasn’t great.”
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