Thomas Tuchel joked new signing Romelu Lukaku will score 50 or 60 times before the end of the year, but the Chelsea coach expects an impact beyond his goals.
Lukaku could make his second Blues debut against Arsenal on Sunday, having returned to Stamford Bridge in a £97.5million transfer from Inter.
Tuchel was asked on Friday if Lukaku could be “the missing piece” for his Chelsea side, who won the Champions League last season but were guilty of profligacy in front of goal.
While Lukaku scored 24 times for Inter in Serie A, converting 25 per cent of his shots, Timo Werner was wasteful in his first season in the Premier League.
From chances worth 11.5 expected goals, Werner netted just six times for a hugely underwhelming 7.6 per cent conversion rate.
Werner was still heavily involved in Chelsea’s play, though, contributing eight assists while carrying the ball 130.6 metres and being involved in 4.9 shot-ending open play sequences per 90 minutes.
And Tuchel believes Werner is one of the players who can profit from the arrival of Lukaku, who was similarly influential at Inter with 11 assists as well as 5.2 shot-ending open play sequence involvements per 90.
Asked how many goals Lukaku might score this season, Tuchel told a news conference: “50, 60, honestly, until winter. No, we expect an impact. Let’s see where the impact is.
“Of course, we expected goals – we should not talk around it – and he himself expects goals. Why? Because he delivered everywhere he played. This is why he’s here.
“Then we will see how far the impact goes. He is a big personality in the dressing room.
“I’m absolutely convinced he will have a very positive impact on Timo Werner, on Kai Havertz, on Christian Pulisic, the guys who play with him, around him. He will open spaces and attract the focus from the defenders.
“Let’s see how we will measure it in the end, but that we demand and he demands goals from him is obvious.”
Asked to compare Lukaku to another striker, Tuchel replied: “I think he’s pretty unique.
“He has physicality and an ability to play with his back to goal, but for me he is the strongest when he is in the half-open, open position even, in transition, to use his immense speed.
“I think with this kind of physical power and at the same time being so fast and so hungry and like a true goalscorer in his characteristic, it’s for me a new and unique experience.”
These are attributes Arsenal will likely have to deal with on Sunday, with Tuchel saying: “We are hoping he is on the pitch for Sunday and things look like it.”
N’Golo Kante and Hakim Ziyech are also both back in training.
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