Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel says Romelu Lukaku has been ‘overplayed’ and feels the mental exertions of carrying the goalscoring burden for Belgium have taken a toll on the player.
The Belgian star has now gone six matches without a goal in all competitions for Chelsea, last netting against Aston Villa in September, and once again fired blanks in the 1-0 win over Brentford.
There have been claims that Chelsea’s style of play is not ideal for Lukaku, who netted during the recent international break in Belgium’s UEFA Nations League defeat to France.
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While Tuchel concedes he still needs to learn how to get the best out of Lukaku – and vice versa – he feels hjs recent issues are down to fatigue, both mentally and physically.
Asked about Lukaku’s drought, and whether he still needs to adapt, Tuchel replied: ‘This will increase every day because we are in the process of adapting to each other.
‘I think in the very moment, it’s my opinion, I feel Romelu is a bit like overplayed. I think he played too many competitions over the summer, too many competitions with the national team, now he played the Nations League.
‘You know he is a fantastic athlete and such a competitive guy that he digs in deep and he wants to win these things, he never takes them easy and dodges games. He wants to be out there and win.
‘So I know how much he wanted to have a good outcome for the European Championship with Belgium and now again in the Nations League. This was a huge match for him personally, it meant a lot to him, it means a lot to him to play for his country, so he takes it really seriously.
‘If that does not work well, he always puts it on his shoulders, he thinks about it, he reflects about it and I feel him a bit tired, mentally tired. Not like hugely that we have a concern, but for me he does not fully enjoy without having second thoughts and third thoughts.
‘For me he’s overplayed a little bit and this is the key point. And he will find his rhythm and find things a bit easier. But it’s difficult to judge if he really needs a break or is it better to keep him on the pitch?
‘The next international break is coming but this is what I feel, particularly for him. Some other players too, for me it’s the same a bit like for Mason [Mount] and Jorginho – they struggle, they have a lot of weight to carry for their countries and they take it and they love it and they are competitors.
‘And if you like it or not, if you play a thousand matches a year, it can feel a bit heavy although they love the game and they are such good guys. But this is what I feel between the lines.’