EPL

Martinez hints that Lukaku may have to leave Chelsea

By Sports Desk April 03, 2022

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has suggested out-of-favour striker Romelu Lukaku may have to leave Chelsea with the World Cup in Qatar on the horizon.

Chelsea forked out a club-record fee that was reported to be £97.5million (€115m) to take Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge from Inter last August.

Lukaku's second spell with Chelsea has not gone to plan so far, though, and the 28-year-old did not do himself any favours by telling Sky Sport Italia that he was unhappy with his situation with the European champions after losing his place in the side.

The former Everton and Manchester United frontman remains out of favour, having scored only 12 goals in 35 appearances this season under Thomas Tuchel.

Martinez hinted that the Red Devils' all-time leading scorer may have to seek pastures new if he is unable to force his way back into the Blues side, so he is firing on all cylinders in Qatar later this year.

"We are talking about players, like Romelu, who have got over 100 caps and are part of this group of players who know the national team inside out," the Spaniard told The Sun.

"I'm not going to judge or assess the condition of any player until after the summer because it is not a normal situation.

"It is still seven months to the World Cup and probably you will go into the details of how a player feels when it gets closer to it than now.

"But there will be a lot of players who change clubs or are going to feel in a different way in the summer.

"Romelu needs to be assessed on how he feels in September, the same way Eden Hazard does and some others.

"But he is one of the players for whom the summer could be a big moment for their careers."

Martinez, however, says Lukaku is ready to fight for his place in Tuchel's team.

He added: "We always speak. I have a very close relationship with all my players. I would never tell a player what to do but we always share thoughts.

"At the moment Romelu is in a good place. He is so committed.

"He was delighted to win the Club World Cup and the next step is to finish the season strong with Chelsea and make sure he can feel very important."

Related items

  • San Jose Earthquakes v Orlando City: Gonzalez certain things will turn San Jose Earthquakes v Orlando City: Gonzalez certain things will turn

    The San Jose Earthquakes may sit bottom of the Western Conference standings ahead of Saturday's clash with Orlando City, but Luchi Gonzalez is certain they will be just fine.

    The 'Quakes saw their mini revival halted by a 4-2 loss to the Portland Timbers in midweek, having previously won three straight games across all competitions.

    Their 10 points are fewer than all MLS teams except the New England Revolution (seven) have won this season, but Gonzalez has seen positive signs.

    "We're going to be fine. This is a great group, and they continue to fight for each other. It's hard when we drop points," he said.

    "I expect nothing but a fire in their belly and a response against Orlando and then in the next one, and it's really fun and exciting to coach this team. 

    "These guys work for each other and they want to keep getting better, and I'm confident they will keep getting better as the season continues."

    Orlando have also made a stuttering start, earning 13 points from 12 games to sit 11th in the Eastern Conference standings.

    The Lions did shut out a Lionel Messi-less Inter Miami side in a goalless draw on Wednesday, though, and midfielder Wilder Cartagena has seen signs of progress.

    "Especially in the last few games, we've been showing ourselves to be more dangerous and attacking," Cartagena said.

    "It's similar to how we were in the last half of last year but obviously there are a couple of minor adjustments that we have to make. I think we are playing a lot better in that area."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    San Jose Earthquakes – Amahl Pellegrino 

    Pellegrino has scored in three straight games, becoming the first San Jose player to do so in MLS play since Cristian Espinoza between July and August last year (four straight). 

    It's Pellegrino's first time scoring in three straight league matches since he netted in four in a row for Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt in 2023.

    Orlando City – Cesar Araujo

    Orlando allowed 29 shots against the Philadelphia Union last Saturday but just seven against Miami on Wednesday. It was the first time in their MLS history that Orlando faced at least 20 fewer shots from one game to the next.

    Araujo protected the backline admirably in midweek and will look to do likewise again here.

    MATCH PREDICTION – DRAW

    The home side has never lost in six all-time meetings between San Jose and Orlando. 

    The first three meetings were all drawn before the hosts won each of the last three, with San Jose winning at home in 2019 and Orlando recording home wins in 2018 and 2021.

    After their midweek stalemate against Miami, Orlando have been shut out five times in league play this season. That is tied for the most in MLS in 2024, while their six times being held scoreless in all competitions this term also equals the most by any MLS outfit. 

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    San Jose Earthquakes – 38.4%

    Orlando City – 33.4%

    Draw – 28.2%

  • Toronto FC v CF Montreal: Courtois accepts blame amid ongoing winless streak Toronto FC v CF Montreal: Courtois accepts blame amid ongoing winless streak

    Laurent Courtois has accepted that it is on him to find a winning formula as CF Montreal look to snap their winless run against Toronto FC.

    Montreal were beaten 3-1 by Columbus Crew in midweek and are now without a victory in six games in all competitions.

    That includes a three-game losing streak in MLS, leaving them 13th in the Eastern Conference, and Courtois is eager to get back on track.

    "It's up to me to find the winning formulas and discern the phases of the game," head coach Courtois said after the loss to Columbus.

    "We have to grit our teeth and find solutions. The difficult times we are going through help me identify my group. I want to know the players better. 

    "From all the negative aspects we can observe, I can identify a few individual aspects to improve the game or the team itself."

    Monreal's rivals Toronto have themselves lost back-to-back games ahead of Saturday's Canadian Classique at BMO Field.

    Nashville SC scored twice late on to snatch a 2-0 win in the Reds' most recent match, but acting head coach Jason deVos admits there can be no excuses.

    "The last ten minutes, two mistakes cost us and that's the cruelty of football sometimes - that it's a 90-minute match and you need to put in a 90-minute performance in," he said. 

    "The players are aware of that. They know where the growth areas are for us as a team."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Toronto - Federico Bernardeschi

    Bernardeschi missed the loss to Nashville but will hope to start this weekend in a fixture he has fond memories of. 

    The Italian has scored in each of his two home games against Montreal, making him the third Toronto player to score in two successive home games against them after Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley.

    Montreal - Joel Waterman

    Montreal have conceded three or more goals five times across their 12 MLS games this season, which is tied with San Jose Earthquakes for the most in MLS.

    They quite simply need to sharpen up at the back, with Joel Waterman needing to step up and hope others around him also do so.. The centre-back led the way for interceptions (three) and clearances (four) against Columbus, yet it was still not enough.

    MATCH PREDICTION: DRAW

    Montreal have won five successive matches against Toronto, following a run of neither side ever winning more than three on the spin in this fixture.

    Toronto have won seven and drawn one of their eight matches in which they have held opponents under two goals since September, while they have lost all 13 in which they have shipped two or more.

    Keeping the opposition quiet is therefore key, and this could present a chance to do just that against a Montreal side with fewer points (five) than any side in MLS since mid-March.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    Toronto - 39.6%
    Draw - 28.5%
    Montreal - 31.9%

  • Al-Nassr 1-1 Al-Hilal: Mitrovic scores last-gasp penalty Al-Nassr 1-1 Al-Hilal: Mitrovic scores last-gasp penalty

    Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a penalty in the 10th minute of second-half stoppage time as Al-Hilal denied Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nassr victory in a 1-1 draw.

    Mitrovic netted his 27th Saudi Pro League goal of the campaign after Sadio Mane was harshly judged to have fouled Saud Abdulhamid in the area.

    Mane stuck out an arm to shield the ball, catching his opponent in the throat, though the contact appeared to have been outside of the box.

    Mitrovic made no mistake to keep Al-Hilal's unbeaten campaign going.

    The Serbian's spot-kick cancelled out Otavio's first-minute opener, with Ronaldo having set up his compatriot.

    Champions Al-Hilal remain 12 points clear of Al-Nassr at the summit of the Pro League standings.

    Data Debrief: Ronaldo the provider

    Ronaldo leads the scoring charts in Saudi Arabia this season, though he had to settle for an assist on Friday.

    That came from the only chance he created, with the 39-year-old limited to 25 touches, though he did have four shots.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.