Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand believes Thomas Tuchel’s lack of trust is part of the reason for Romelu Lukaku’s poor form at Chelsea.
Lukaku’s arrival last summer was tipped by some to lead Chelsea to Premier League glory, the final missing piece of a puzzle that had already claimed the Champions League last season. But the Belgian has underwhelmed.
Despite being Chelsea’s top scorer across all competitions this season, Lukaku’s 15 goals in 43 appearances is nowhere near the level many expected of him – he is only two clear of Kai Havertz and Mason Mount.
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This is a far cry from the 30 goals in 44 games that Lukaku managed for Inter Milan across all competitions last season, including 24 to help the Nerazzurri win Serie A for the first time in 11 years.
And Ferdinand believes Lukaku’s lack of confidence has played a big role in his poor season, and contributes to the chances he has been missing.
“That comes down to one thing, confidence,” Ferdinand said on his Vibe with Five podcast.
“He hasn’t got the confidence and he hasn’t got the confidence of the coach. No matter what the manager says to him right now, even if he says ‘I believe in you, you’re my guy’ that takes probably another 10 games before he feels that confidence coming through, because of what’s gone on in the season.
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“He hasn’t picked him enough, so he knows that the manager doesn’t trust him properly.
“That filters out to the team, so he’s probably thinking some of the players are going to be doubting him.
“He’s not doing what they expected of him. He’s at the lowest of lows, so any chance that came to him, he wasn’t the Lukaku that had an Inter Milan shirt on.”
There is a stark contrast between the Lukaku that played for Inter last season and the one donning the Chelsea blue this year. Last season, the Belgian averaged 0.75 goals per 90 minutes in Serie A and 0.34 assists, forming an excellent partnership with Lautaro Martinez. For Chelsea in 2021/22 he has 0.48 goals per 90 in the Premier League and is yet to record an assist across all competitions.
Lukaku was more accurate in Serie A too, hitting the target with 1.5 of his 2.99 shots per 90 compared to 0.9 from 2.45 in the Premier League. His xG is quite a bit lower too at 0.74 in Serie A to 0.4 in the Premier League – though he is over-performing by more this season at +0.8 compared to +0.1.
“He’s not (the same player) right now, no,” Ferdinand added.
“I think that’s obviously (because) he hasn’t performed what everyone expected him to, but also the manager has taken him out of the team. Tuchel’s been ruthless.”