Romelu Lukaku's Chelsea future in doubt after Thomas Tuchel dropped him for Liverpool clash - sources

Romelu Lukaku's future at Chelsea looks increasingly uncertain after the striker was dropped for the Premier League clash with Liverpool on Sunday, sources told ESPN.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel made the decision following talks with Lukaku in the wake of a controversial interview conducted by Sky Italia three weeks ago and released Thursday.

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Lukaku said he was "not very happy with the situation" at Chelsea with Tuchel preferring to play "a different formation" to the one he expected. He added that he would like to return to Inter Milan while still in the prime of his career, having only left the Serie A side last summer in a €115 million (£97.5m) deal.

Speaking ahead of the Liverpool match, Tuchel told Sky Sports: "The thing got too big and too noisy close to the match so I decided to preotect the preparation of the match and that is why he is out.

"Of course we have spoken, twice. I have spoken to the main players then we had to realise it is too close to the match. It is too big. We delayed the decision and while we are doing that we have to protect the preparation of the match.

"We have a big match of football to play. We need full focus which is hard enough to get without this decision but that is why he is not playing. For sure it was a difficult decision to take."

The day after the interview, Tuchel said that Lukaku's comments were "unhelpful" and risked taking the focus away from a pivotal moment in the Premier League title race.

Sources told ESPN that Lukaku gave the interview without the club's knowledge, an act that Tuchel and his staff have taken a dim view of. Lukaku was not believed to have any intention of attempting to force a move away in January, but it remains to be seen whether his punishment -- which could yet be accompanied by a fine -- prompts a change of heart.

When asked on Friday how to get the best out of Lukaku, Tuchel replied: "Training, training, playing. Training, playing, training, sleeping, eating good, training, playing, sleeping, eating good, drink a lot of water, sleep, train and don't give interviews."

Chelsea came from two goals down to draw 2-2 against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. The result left Tuchel's side 10 points behind leaders Manchester City.