Thomas Tuchel responds to Antonio Conte analysis of Romelu Lukaku

Tom Gott
Thomas Tuchel celebrates with Romelu Lukaku
Thomas Tuchel celebrates with Romelu Lukaku / James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has defended his use of striker Romelu Lukaku following claims from former Inter boss Antonio Conte that he has not figured out how to use the Belgian.

Conte led Lukaku to 24 goals in 36 Serie A appearances last season and recently confessed that he did not agree with Tuchel's decision to play the striker as a pure target man - a role which left Lukaku painfully isolated in Chelsea's past two games.

“I don’t think Chelsea have quite figured out how to use him yet,” Conte said recently (via The Guardian). “He is a very specific striker. Bringing Lukaku into the box, he is dangerous. However, when he starts from midfield, he is incredibly quick. It is very difficult to find a player who is both a target man but can also run from midfield.”

When asked about Conte's comments, Tuchel suggested that the Italian must not have been watching Chelsea all season or else he would not be able to make such a claim.

"He was obviously not on the telly after the Tottenham game," Tuchel said. "I don’t feel offended, he has every right. He is in the TV studio. I even saw it while I was showering before the match in the hotel.

"I saw him talking about us and I saw all the pictures between Romelu and our players from the Tottenham game. They were talking about the link-up play from Romelu, and how strong he is and how much he scored so they were praising him.

"I can see it but it is not a Romelu Lukaku problem. The other teams have changed their structure to close down Romelu but there are solutions to this. We are on it."

When asked to dive a little deeper on what he meant by other teams changing their structure, Tuchel insisted Chelsea's opponents have all been dropping deeper than normal to deal with the threat of Lukaku.

“Teams are well prepared against us,” Tuchel continued. “I can see Zenit St Petersburg play a back five for the first time in the last 200 matches that we watched.

"I can see Aston Villa play a back five against us and they never played a back five before. We have to accept it. Don’t get angry about it. Play free no matter what.”