Thomas Tuchel says leaving Romelu Lukaku out of Chelsea’s squad to face Liverpool was a “difficult decision” but one he had to make.
The Belgium international was omitted from the Blues’ 20-man group for Sunday’s crucial clash at Stamford Bridge between the sides sitting second and third in the Premier League.
Tuchel made the big call after Lukaku sparked controversy when an interview conducted with Sky Sport Italia earlier this month was aired on Thursday and Friday.
In the wide-ranging interview, Lukaku said he “is not very happy with the situation” he finds himself in at Chelsea and expressed his desire to one day return to Inter.
Addressing the comments on Friday, Tuchel said Lukaku’s comments bring “noise we do not need” at Chelsea ahead of such an important match.
And, after leaving the 28-year-old out of his squad to face the Reds, Tuchel explained he did not want his other players to be distracted.
“The issue got too big, too noisy, so close to the match, so I decided to protect the preparation for the match, so that is why he is out,” he told Sky Sports.
“Of course we have spoken, twice to the main players, but after that we had to realise it was too close to the match, it’s too big.
“We delayed the decision over what to do, but while are delaying we have to protect the preparation for the match, we have a big game to play.
“Full focus, which is hard to get even without this decision, was easier in my opinion if he is not in the squad, and that is why we did it.
“It was a difficult decision, but in my opinion it was the decision to take.”
Lukaku scored 24 times for Inter in Serie A last term and has scored seven goals in 18 appearances since returning to Chelsea in a campaign blighted by an ankle injury and a positive test for coronavirus.
The former Manchester United striker had scored in Chelsea’s last two games prior to facing Liverpool.
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