Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku has apologised for an unsanctioned interview he gave to Sky Italy in which he expressed his unhappiness at the club and claimed he wanted to one day return to Inter Milan.
Sources tell ESPN that Lukaku is also expected to stay at the club with the following clear-the-air talks with head coach Thomas Tuchel. The 28-year-old was dropped for Sunday's 2-2 draw against Liverpool with Tuchel concerned about the "noise" caused by the interview.
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Lukaku trained at the club's Cobham base on Monday before meeting with Tuchel to discuss his motivation for arranging the interview, which took place more than three weeks ago but was released last Thursday. Sources told ESPN that Lukaku expressed contrition over how the interview was received and claimed his main focus was to address the reaction in Italy to his departure from Inter in the summer.
In a video released by Chelsea on Tuesday, Lukaku said he was sorry for the controversy created by the interview's release.
"You guys know the connection that I have with this club, since my teenage years, so you know, I totally understand you guys being upset," he said.
"Obviously it's up to me now to restore your trust and I'll do my best to show commitment every day on the training ground to make sure that we win games... and also to the manager to my teammates and the board because I think it was not the right moment also."
Speaking on Tuesday ahead of the team's Carabao Cup first-leg semifinal tie against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, Tuchel acknowledged that "there will be some discipline actions of course and [Lukaku] will accept it.
"It happened what happened. It is not a small thing, it is not the biggest thing out there and it does not make a comeback impossible, absolutely not, this is what we prove now. But something happened. He will be fined and of course he needs to accept it."
Chelsea refused to comment on reports in Italy that Lukaku has been fined €600,000 for his actions but sources told ESPN last weekend that senior figures were considering tough action having taken a dim view of his decision to arrange such a forthright interview without the club's approval.
"First of all, we were happy that we took the time that it needed to look calmly on it," Tuchel said. "This is what we did. He apologised and is back in the squad for today's training.
"For me, the most important thing was to understand and to clearly understand. I believe he did not do this intentionally to create this kind of noise in front of a big game and the second one, it was the very first time that he even behaved ... even before when he seemed in his opinion he was ready to play, for example after his injury, from the start.
"We thought he needs to readapt to the intensity a little bit more. There was never the slightest behaviour against the team, so it was the very, very first time we felt it in this way; these are very important points to stay calm and to understand that's it's not as big as maybe people want it to be.
"It is not small, but it is small enough to stay calm, to accept an apology and to move on forward. He is an emotional guy. He does not hold back with his opinion, so also credit to that. Sometimes he carries his heart on his tongue. It is like this and we should not just blame him. We should adapt to the situation."
Lukaku joined Chelsea in a €115 million move that was partly motivated by Inter's financial difficulties but was widely criticised by Inter fans, some of whom unveiled a banner outside the San Siro which, translated into English, read: "It doesn't matter who runs away in the rain. It counts who stays in the storm. Bye Romelu."
Chelsea took a dim view of the interview being conducted without the club's knowledge, and the perception was that he was unhappy at the club amid frustration over Tuchel's tactical approach.
But sources told ESPN that Tuchel is keen to reintegrate Lukaku and the player is not minded to push for a move away from the club this month.
Lukaku is expected to take steps to repair relations with both his teammates and Chelsea supporters, who remained supportive of Tuchel throughout the game against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
It is also understood that Tuchel has backing from senior figures at Chelsea over his handling of the situation to this point.
Asked about how the fans could react to Lukaku on his return to action, Tuchel added: "He is very aware of what happened and what he created. He feels the responsibility to clean the mess up. Maybe we will have a bit of smell still from it, of course. He can handle it. He has also no other choice.
"He cannot expect now everybody to be super-happy the very next day, but he is still our player and we have good reasons and a lot of reasons to make him play for us, to convince him, to fight hard that he is our player.
"We are happy he is our player and we will protect him. In the end, it is also every important that the stadium supports the team. Even if somebody has a different opinion on it or strongly disagrees, it is about the team in anything we do. I hope the supporters can take this also and keep on supporting the team because we are in a moment where we really need the support."
The defender moved to Stamford Bridge on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain in August 2020 and helped them win the Champions League last season.