EPL

Tuchel surprised to outlast Abramovich and Chelsea board members, says Lukaku wanted exit

By Sports Desk July 15, 2022

Thomas Tuchel acknowledged he did not expect to outlast Roman Abramovich and influential board members at Chelsea, while Romelu Lukaku made it "very clear he wanted to leave".

Chelsea have undergone wholesale change at Stamford Bridge since Todd Boehly's consortium acquired the club, with numerous departures at the top of the hierarchy.

Owner Abramovich, hampered by the sanctions imposed on him following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, ended a 19-year spell with the Premier League side, while Bruce Buck stepped down as chairman.

Director and chief decision-maker Marina Granovskaia is also set to leave after 12 years, and technical and performance advisor Petr Cech was another departure as the boardroom reshuffle continued.

Granovskaia will remain available to Boehly, who is acting as interim sporting director and chairman, for the duration of the current transfer window to help with the transitional period.

The exodus in the Chelsea boardroom has led head coach Tuchel to be more involved with transfer activity, but the German hopes that he will not be required to participate as actively in negotiations in the longer term.

"It is intense," Tuchel said of the new era at Chelsea. "Everybody needs to find their role and have to adjust and adapt, of course.

"[My job] has changed a lot at the moment. I could never have imagined that I stayed longer at the club than Roman, Marina and Petr. 

"This was impossible so now with Marina not in charge and Petr not here anymore it has changed a lot. It's not my favourite thing to do and in the long run the focus has to be on coaching because it is why I am here.

"But, at the moment, of course my help is needed and wanted, and it is necessary that I step up and take the responsibility. 

"I am in contact with Todd directly on a daily basis and sometimes more than once on a daily basis because we are aware that we have a club in transition and change.

"My concern is for the team to be competitive and for this we have to invest a lot of time and we need to be hands on. There is no other way. 

"We compete not only against the best teams, but also against the best managers. We need to be competitive and replace big players and infuse quality.

"I think it's important for everybody at Cobham to take a little bit more responsibility, not only for me."

Tuchel has lost numerous key leaders from his side, with Antonio Rudiger going to Real Madrid and Andreas Christensen to Barcelona, where Cesar Azpilicueta could reportedly join as well.

Lukaku was another departure, sent out on loan to Inter, just a season after Chelsea spent a club-record £97.5million to bring the striker back to London.

The Belgium international labelled his return to Chelsea as a "mistake" on Thursday, and Tuchel suggested it was Lukaku who was intent on returning to Italy for the 2022-23 season.

"There has never been a meeting where I said 'I want this guy out'," said Tuchel. "Never. I was always clear – if he stays we will do everything to put him in a better place, to put him in better shape, to improve my style of coaching, our style of playing, to make him a better fit. 

"It was always a possibility he stayed, but Romelu made it very clear he wanted to leave and the owners took the decision to make the decision straight away.

"Disappointed is the wrong word. I don't know a better word in English. It feels like I take it personally – it's never personal. I am not happy that we couldn't bring more out of him.

"Maybe it would have just taken a bit more time. A bit more fitness, a bit more adaptation in our game. Who knows? But we will not find out.

"Once Romelu gave his clear opinion on the situation and there was a solution on the table, the owners made their choice and had my blessing."

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