Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea exit could give Thomas Tuchel an unexpected transfer reprieve

Thomas Tuchel condemns 'Roman Abramovich' chants

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It’s been a rough couple of weeks for Chelsea, who have had to endure losing both a cup final and their owner with the imminent departure of Roman Abramovich. But while everyone at the club will be devastated at the prospect of Abramovich curtailing his 19-year tenure, it could solve an underlying problem for Thomas Tuchel.

The Blues boss has been left with an expensive, eight-figure problem in recent weeks in the form of Romelu Lukaku.

Unfortunately, Lukaku’s dream return to Stamford Bridge has descended into a bit of a nightmare.

The Belgian striker has seriously underwhelmed in the Premier League, where he’s mustered just five goals in 17 games.

And with Kai Havertz now (finally) firing, Lukaku’s long-term spot in the team is under real threat.

That represented a major problem for Tuchel. It’s highly unlikely that Abramovich has been too pleased with the fact that the Blues record signing had been misfiring on the pitch and is now languishing off of it.

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The Russian oligarch is known to be a big fan of Lukaku, and while Tuchel hasn’t yet come under pressure from Abramovich over his handling of the divisive striker, it’s probably safe to assume that the Blues owner is none too thrilled to have a £97.5m striker sat on the bench.

It’s hard to argue with that stance either; Abramovich was keen on bringing Lukaku back to London, but Tuchel was just as eager to lure an elite striker to the club to build on last year’s Champions League success.

It’s now abundantly clear that the move hasn’t worked out for anyone.

But Abramovich’s decision to sell up does now provide Tuchel with an unexpected way out of the expensive debacle.

Lukaku has already drawn the ire of the Stamford Bridge faithful with some lacklustre performances and controversial comments in the media, while Tuchel hasn’t exactly leapt to his striker’s defence on the multiple occasions that such criticism has crescendoed.

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Despite a flurry of goals in recent weeks, it doesn’t particularly feel like Lukaku is anywhere near winning Tuchel over.

It’s probably fair to say that both Tuchel and Lukaku, at times this season, would have favoured a mutual separation in the summer.

But that wouldn’t have been a viable option with Abramovich at the helm.

Abramovich was reportedly desperate to bring Lukaku back to the capital to realise the vision the club originally had for the powerful striker over a decade ago.

And that, along with Lukaku’s gargantuan price tag, means it’s highly unlikely that the Blues supremo would have been willing to write Lukaku off as a club-record failure this swiftly.

It felt like the only solution to this conundrum was for Tuchel to persevere with Lukaku to avoid Abramovich’s wrath in the long-term. Make no mistake, even if pressure hasn’t come from the Chelsea hierarchy yet over Lukaku’s situation – and there’s no indication at all that it has – then it was certainly coming.

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Would Tuchel have paid the ultimate price for what looks like an expensive mistake?

We’ll probably never know now; Abramovich’s exit will hand Tuchel an unexpected reprieve on that front.

There is still, of course, a chance that Lukaku could defy his critics once again and salvage his second spell at Stamford Bridge; if he has the patience and the hunger to snatch his spot back from Havertz.

That would be the ideal outcome for everyone involved – even if it seems unlikely at this stage.

But ultimately, the final decision will now rest with Tuchel.

And it’s now a decision that he can make without looking over his shoulder.

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