Neymar, Harry Kane and Erling Haaland are among the most notable players to have missed out on the top 10 of the Ballon d'Or.

The first 20 names from the 30-man shortlist have been announced, with Haaland just failing to break in at 11th, while Neymar is 16th and Harry Kane is down in 23rd.

Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, who led Inter to their first Serie A title in 10 years last season, is just behind Haaland in 12th, while Manchester United's Bruno Fernandes did not make the top 20, finishing joint-21st in the voting.

Of players from Europe's top five leagues, only Bayern Munich centre-forward and Ballon d'Or favourite Robert Lewandowski scored more goals in all competitions than Haaland's 38, which the Norway forward netted at a rapid rate of one every 87.66 minutes.

While the Borussia Dortmund sensation, who scored his 50th Bundesliga goal in as many games on Saturday, can count himself unlucky not to feature higher up on the list, the same cannot be said for Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar.

The Brazil forward, who finished third in 2015 and 2017, had an underwhelming, injury hit year in which he scored just 11 goals and recorded eight assists for PSG across all competitions, although he did reach the Copa America final with Brazil, losing out to club team-mate Lionel Messi.

Kane won the Premier League golden boot award in 2020-21, and topped the assist charts before helping England to a Euro 2020 final.

However, Tottenham finished seventh in the Premier League and the England captain - who had a prospective move to Manchester City break down - has only a solitary top-flight strike to his name this term.

Lukaku recorded the same tally as Kane, but did help Inter to a first Serie A title in 10 years, while Fernandes, who split 21st place with Inter's Lautaro Martinez, hit one less, but did also record 17 assists for United.

Manchester City's Ruben Dias, Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling were placed joint-26th, 25th, 20th and 15th respectively, while 2018 Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric was 29th alongside Cesar Azpilicueta.

The Chelsea captain's team-mate Mason Mount was 19th, with Luis Suarez 17th, the Uruguay forward having played a pivotal role in Atletico Madrid's LaLiga success last term.

Italy defenders Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini came 14th and 13th, with compatriot Nicolo Barella sharing 26th place with Dias and Villarreal's Gerard Moreno.

Barcelona youngster Pedri enjoyed a wonderful year, and was ranked at 24th.

The top 10 players remaining are: Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski, Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah, Karim Benzema, Kevin De Bruyne, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Jorginho, N'Golo Kante and Kylian Mbappe.

Michael Carrick has benched Cristiano Ronaldo for Manchester United's clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Ronaldo scored United's opener in the 2-0 win over Villarreal on Tuesday but has made way for the match against the Premier League leaders.

In all competitions, Ronaldo has scored just one goal in 15 appearances against Chelsea, doing so in the 2008 Champions League final. The Blues are the side he has faced the most without scoring in top-flight football (10 games).

Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho, who scored his first goal for the club on Tuesday, have instead been selected up top, with Bruno Fernandes seemingly spearheading a midfield diamond for United, whose 4-1 defeat at Watford last week signalled the end of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's time as manager.

Ralf Rangnick is expected to be announced as the club's interim manager soon, but Carrick was always set to take charge on Sunday. 

Behind the front three, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay and Fred were named in midfield, with Eric Bailly replacing the suspended Harry Maguire in defence and Alex Telles playing at left-back. Mason Greenwood was back on the bench after missing the defeat to Watford due to contracting COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Thomas Tuchel was able to welcome back Timo Werner into his starting XI, with Romelu Lukaku – who has only scored in one match against United in his career, back in 2013 – was also available after his injury lay-off, though only deemed fit enough for the bench.

League leaders Chelsea have conceded just four goals in their 12 Premier League games this season. Only the Blues themselves (three in 2004-05) have shipped fewer at this stage of an English top-flight campaign, though N'Golo Kante was not available after suffering an injury in the midweek win over Juventus.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek was chosen to partner Jorginho in midfield, with Marcos Alonso replacing the injured Ben Chilwell. 

Thomas Tuchel is unsure whether Romelu Lukaku will return for Chelsea's Champions League showdown with Juventus, while Kai Havertz could miss out entirely.

Record signing Lukaku has been out for a month due to an ankle injury, but is closing in on a comeback.

The Belgium striker was able to resume training last week, but Blues manager Tuchel will not rush him back into the side at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

While Lukaku's involvement appears undecided, Havertz seems unlikely to feature after suffering a hamstring injury against Leicester City.

Jorginho will be available after coming off with cramp in the win over the Foxes as the second-placed holders look for a win that would put them level on 12 points with the Group H leaders.

Asked about the possibility of Lukaku returning, Tuchel said: "Not sure yet. He seemed okay in training yesterday [Sunday], we will see about the reaction.

"He has an appointment with the doctors and physios. Maybe we can bring 20 players to the squad. The last minutes would be the absolute maximum.

"Jorginho is absolutely okay. Kai had a hamstring problem so we took him off and we have some doubts with him."

Chelsea are unbeaten in nine matches – winning seven and edging a penalty shootout – since losing 1-0 to the Bianconeri in September.

It has been reported that owner Roman Abramovich could be in attendance for the battle between the top two, but Tuchel says that will not give his side extra motivation to put on a show.

The German said: "Our show is the basics. We give our very best if the owner is here or if he is not here. He will watch us closely anyway if he isn't here.

"We put a show on a daily basis and that is with hard work to make him happy and all our supporters who are in the stadium tomorrow. We need everyone full on and ourselves to be at the top level."

The London club have only won one of their past 10 Champions League encounters with Italian sides.

Tuchel says Chelsea will not shoot themselves in the foot by taking a gung-ho approach to trying to qualify as group winners.

"We will not risk our qualification and go all in if the situation is like this, but we will try everything to win the game and the group and to do this, we have to win the game," said the former Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund boss.

Thomas Tuchel is not putting any pressure on Romelu Lukaku as the Chelsea striker continues his recovery from injury.

Lukaku has been absent since sustaining an ankle problem in Chelsea's 4-0 win over Malmo in the Champions League on October 20.

The 28-year-old has subsequently missed five Chelsea games, along with Belgium's World Cup qualifiers against Estonia and Wales.

Chelsea have also been without Lukaku's fellow forward Timo Werner, who suffered a thigh injury in the same game.

Tuchel's team managed three victories without their strikers, though they needed a penalty shoot-out to get past Southampton in the EFL Cup before being held to a 1-1 home draw by Burnley before the international break.

Leicester City, who beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final last season, are next up in Saturday's early Premier League kick-off, but Tuchel will again be without Lukaku.

"Mateo [Kovacic] and Romelu are still out. Romelu is very close to team training, hopefully he will join the squad on Sunday," Tuchel said on Friday.

"Let's see how this works out. He is pushing hard to come back as soon as possible."

Before his injury, Lukaku had not been at his best in terms of goalscoring, having not netted for the Blues across all competitions since September 14.

Lukaku's return would be timely for Saturday's trip to the King Power Stadium, given he has scored five goals in eight Premier League appearances against teams managed by Brendan Rodgers (all against Liverpool, including the last goal scored against the Northern Irishman's Reds side in October 2015 for Everton).

No player has netted more Premier League goals against teams managed by Rodgers (Harry Kane also on five), but Tuchel insisted he is not going to rush Lukaku back.

Asked if Lukaku could be fit to feature against Juventus on Tuesday, or his former club Manchester United in Chelsea's following league game on October 28, Tuchel said: "It's pure speculation and it will not help. All I can say is that we will try hard that he will join team training on Sunday.

"If everything works out perfectly and he trains on Sunday and Monday then okay he can maybe join the group on the bench, but there are a lot of ifs and I don't want to put pressure on him.

"He's putting a lot of pressure on himself and we will not rush things. We will take things seriously as always, have talks with doctors and physios and with the player.

"If there is something to be decided then that's good, and it will be decided on Monday evening."

Tuchel did have a more positive update to offer on Werner, however, while Mason Mount could be in contention and Christian Pulisic is fit to feature.

"Timo's in team training since Thursday, let's see, we have another training session today, let's see if he is even in the squad or on the bench," Tuchel added.

"We can only decide after his second session. Christian Pulisic feels fine. Thiago Silva will train, he did not play [for Brazil] but he has some trouble in his body and some time differences. Mason [Mount] is back in training, looking hungry, fresh in a good spirit, but we need to evaluate. He looks good, but we need to see if he can start or play 90 minutes."

Chelsea may well need the Germany forward. While they have only lost three of their last 18 Premier League matches against the Foxes, albeit the most recent of those defeats came in the corresponding fixture last season, in what proved to be Frank Lampard's last top-flight game in charge, Leicester are unbeaten in their last three home league matches against the Blues.

In all competitions, Leicester have won two matches against Chelsea in 2021, winning in the Premier League in January and the FA Cup final in May. In the last 10 years, only Man United have beaten them three times in a single calendar year.

Romelu Lukaku returned to Chelsea training on Monday after missing their past five games with an ankle injury. 

Belgium international Lukaku was forced off in the 23rd minute of the 4-0 Champions League win over Malmo on October 20 following a rough tackle by Lasse Nielsen. 

Timo Werner hurt his hamstring in the same game and has also been absent since, but Chelsea went unbeaten in their five games without the attacking duo.

The Blues averaged 2.6 goals in that run. In their eight games in all competitions this season when Lukaku and Werner have featured, the Blues have averaged 2.1 goals. 

However, the 11 Premier League goals Chelsea scored during the pair's absence came from an Expected Goals (xG) of 6.2, suggesting their impressive performances in front of goal would not be sustainable.

They will therefore hope Lukaku, who has not scored for Thomas Tuchel's men since September, can start firing again after a week to build up his fitness for the Premier League game against Leicester City on Saturday. 

Marcos Alonso also returned to training on Monday, having sat out the draw with Burnley before the international break with an ankle problem. 

Tottenham moved quickly after sacking Nuno Espirito Santo on Monday, appointing Antonio Conte as his successor just a day later.

The swift changeover is a huge departure from the shambles Spurs found themselves embroiled in during pre-season when initially hiring Nuno, who was apparently way down their list of candidates to replace Jose Mourinho.

Conte was said to have been Spurs' ideal choice back then but was reluctant to jump straight back into a job after leaving Inter. But now he does find himself in charge at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and he's got plenty of work on his hands.

While their 15 points from 10 Premier League matches is by no means a disaster as they sit ninth in the table, the major concerns relating to Spurs have been the style of play and Harry Kane's form.

With this in mind, Stats Perform delves into the Opta numbers to see what Spurs fans can expect from the Italian.

Undoubted pedigree

It really is a sign of the times – and the Premier League's financial might – that Tottenham are able to sack a coach they never really wanted and bring in the bloke who won Serie A just last season.

Granted, Inter winning the Scudetto was hardly a fairytale story, and they spent a fair amount of money to build the team that got the job done, but you can't deny the fine job Conte did in two years there.

His first season saw them narrowly miss out to Juve by a single point, while they also got to the Europa League final only to lose to Sevilla – that was hardly a disgrace given the Spaniards have never lost a Europa League/UEFA Cup final.

It was clear to see Inter were building to something and in 2020-21 they got their first Serie A title in 11 years, ending the Juve domination that stretched back to 2010-11 and coincidentally began with Conte as coach.

Of course, it could be argued that Conte's return to Italian football was timed perfectly, with Juve slipping as a force and Serie A waiting for another team to take over, but there's no getting away from the fact Inter were dominant for a massive part of the season – they were top from matchday 22 all the way through to the end of the season.

After a 2-1 loss at Sampdoria on January 6, Inter did not lose again before sealing the title, with the 3-2 defeat away to Juve on the penultimate day of the season having no impact on the Nerazzurri's end position.

Conte turned Inter from perennial underachievers to champions, and while money was spent, so many of those brought in improved significantly under his guidance as well.

The system

Conte's tactical tendencies are well-publicised. In fact, there aren't many coaches in world football who are more associated with a specific system than he is with his.

During his last spell in the Premier League, which included one title success, his Chelsea lined up with a back three in all but six of his 78 top-flight matches.

In the long run, Spurs fans can expect such a set-up to lead to greater pressing intensity. While Inter's 294 high turnovers may have only been enough to rank sixth in Serie A (and it would have been the same in the Premier League) last term, that total was still far more than Tottenham (228), the third-lowest in the English top flight.

Among the two sides with even fewer high turnovers than Spurs were Nuno's Wolves (205).

Inter's 12.8 PPDA (opposition passes allowed per defensive action) for 2020-21 was roughly average across Serie A and the Premier League, suggesting Inter didn't necessarily do their most aggressive pressing from the front.

Additionally, it could be argued that Spurs actually have a group of players well-suited to making the most of an intense press. Of course, the Nerazzurri's high turnovers total was much greater, but when it comes to efficiency, Spurs were slightly better in 2020-21.

Spurs' shot-ending high turnovers accounted for 16.2 per cent of their total, while that figure was 15 per cent for Inter. They both scored five goals from such situations.

Granted, this doesn't take into consideration the differing cultural styles between the two leagues, with the Premier League quite open and Serie A traditionally a little tighter, but it suggests Conte's ideals might actually translate rather well to the Spurs squad.

That's not to say we should expect overnight changes. So far this season, Spurs rank 82nd out of the 98 teams in Europe's top five leagues for high turnovers (62) and pressed sequences (124). A drastic change of mentality will take a time.

Whipping up a Harry Kane

What Spurs fans will be most intrigued to see, however, is whether Conte can get Kane back to his best.

The England captain could not find a way out of the club in pre-season, with Manchester City lurking, and while he has not exactly kicked up a fuss in public about being made to stay, his performances haven't helped certain perceptions of him.

After all, he achieved the rare feat of finishing top of the goals and assists charts last season – that hadn't been accomplished since Andy Cole in 1994. His form was one of few positives for Spurs.

Yet in 2021-22, his productivity has dipped significantly. He has gone from scoring 0.7 goals per game to 0.1, with just a solitary strike in nine Premier League matches.

Now, it would be fair to suggest Nuno's tactics haven't helped. Spurs are joint-lowest – with relegation-doomed Norwich City – for shots per game (10.3), and it's difficult to blame that on one player, regardless of how much Kane has dropped off.

Kane has seen his own shooting frequency almost halve to just 2.1 per 90 minutes from 3.9 last season and he's not creating much either, his chances created dropping to 0.8 from 1.4 each game.

But with Conte, there is certainly cause for optimism, at least in terms of getting Kane firing again – assuming his poor form is down to system and not a reaction to not getting a transfer.

Granted, Romelu Lukaku and Kane are very different players, but Conte knew how to get the best out of the Belgian, who scored 47 league goals in 72 games under the Italian at a rate of one every 124.9 minutes (0.7 per 90 minutes).

Only for Steve Clarke at West Brom has Lukaku scored more frequently (one every 117.82 mins) in his career (top five leagues).

Of course, Lukaku wasn't doing it all by himself at Inter – his 3.0 shots per game last season was actually fewer than Lautaro Martinez's 3.8. They were essentially a two-man frontline, perhaps something we can expect to see with Kane and Son Heung-min once again.

Both Lukaku and Martinez averaged more touches (7.3 and 6.7) and shots (2.6 and 3.0) in the box than Kane (5.0 and 2.5) as well, further evidence of how Conte's system enables two central strikers to thrive as an attacking threat.

The relationship between Son and Kane has long been heralded, and last season Martinez and Lukaku linked up for eight goals from 29 overall chances – another tick in the pros column.

There will be those who claim Conte represents a gamble, especially given his rather volatile reputation and how that may not fuse well with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, yet you could argue no manager is a guarantee.

But what is undoubtable is Conte's track record and work ethic as a coach. There's every reason to think this could be a masterstroke for Spurs, but only if he's allowed to do it all his way.

Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner will not return for Chelsea before the November international break, Thomas Tuchel revealed ahead of Saturday's trip to Newcastle United.

Neither Lukaku nor Werner have featured for the Blues since their 4-0 Champions League win over Malmo on October 20 due to respective ankle and hamstring injuries.

The pair were initially ruled out of matches against Norwich City and Southampton, both of which Chelsea won – albeit only on penalties against Saints.

But Tuchel will again be without the forwards at Newcastle and also for meetings with Malmo and Burnley prior to the pause in club action.

Lukaku and Werner are now targeting a potentially pivotal stretch when the season resumes, as Chelsea face Leicester City, Juventus and Manchester United in succession.

"Timo and Romelu are still out because of their injuries," Tuchel told a pre-match news conference. "Christian Pulisic did join the last two training sessions, but it's still too early, given the time that he missed."

He added: "I'm not a friend of deadlines and putting pressure on expectations, but I can tell you that it's realistic that both of them, Timo and Romelu, have a new target, and that target is after the international break. That is what we aim for and they aim for.

"With Christian Pulisic, we are looking at the Burnley match."

Tuchel otherwise provided largely positive news on the injury front, although he later revealed Mateo Kovacic had suffered a hamstring injury in training and was also likely to be missing for close to a month.

"Everybody else is available," Tuchel said. "Azpi [Cesar Azpilicueta] is back on the pitch, Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] is back on the pitch, N'G [N'Golo Kante] is back on the pitch. They are with the team tomorrow and ready to play."

The coach is hopeful the absence of the injured players will not be too keenly felt.

Chelsea have already had 14 different goalscorers in the Premier League this season, the earliest in a campaign any team have ever had as many players score in the competition (excluding own goals).

"We have to compensate the loss of Romelu and Timo," Tuchel said. "We did score before with different goalscorers, but now it's even more necessary."

Chelsea have perhaps been fortunate in that sense, so far outperforming their expected goals (xG) total of 15.0 in scoring 23 goals – the biggest disparity in the division.

Tuchel's men also have the biggest difference between xG against (10.7) and goals conceded (three).

"Let's be honest: we're relying a little bit too much on the performances of our goalkeepers this season," said Tuchel, with Edouard Mendy preventing 3.2 goals according to expected goals on target data, by far the best performance in the league.

"Still, we have a certain stability, and we want a certain stability mentally to overcome difficult situations in games. We believe we can overcome them."

That belief might be put to the test by Newcastle, who have lost five of their past six Premier League games against Chelsea but are buoyed by a lucrative takeover that has brought the St James' Park crowd back on side.

"Things have changed for them, obviously, maybe changed within the dressing room, the spirit within the club, the belief of the city, the belief of the supporters with what's coming," Tuchel said. "Maybe that affects the atmosphere in the stadium for them and of course for us.

"But we experience right now that there is a huge value to play against us, and we have come out of these matches as so-called favourites. I liked a lot how we approached these matches with intensity and effort."

Antonio Conte drew the best out of Romelu Lukaku at Inter after showing him support that felt lacking at Manchester United, the striker's agent has claimed.

As Conte emerges as a possible candidate to become the next United manager, should Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continue to struggle, his credentials as a coach who helps players to achieve their potential have been underlined by remarks from Lukaku's representative Federico Pastorello.

When Lukaku joined Inter from United in August 2019, it was on the back of a disappointing second year at Old Trafford in which he scored 15 goals in 45 games – 32 were starts – at a rate of one every 201 minutes.

That was the fewest goals he had managed in a full season since establishing himself in the Premier League during a loan spell at West Brom in 2012-13. Lukaku was owned by Chelsea during his time with the Baggies. He saw little action for the Blues first time around, but his Premier League career has come full circle this year after he returned to Stamford Bridge following two prolific years with Inter in Italy.

Four strong seasons at Everton were followed by a 27-goal first campaign with United, before the team's fortunes nosedived in the final months of Jose Mourinho's tenure, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking over midway through the 2018-19 campaign.

His goals under Mourinho in that season came at one every 273 minutes, improving to one every 151 minutes once Solskjaer took the reins for the Red Devils.

But Pastorello said Lukaku still needed the assurance he was central to a manager's plans, and he found that at San Siro under Conte, a former Chelsea boss who wanted to sign the striker during his stint in west London.

"Two years of work with Mr Conte helped him. He can score left, right, head. He has completed himself as a striker working with Mr Conte. He also had the opportunity to improve himself personally," Pastorello told Sky Sports News.

"He felt wanted. This is what he was not able to feel at Man United. That happens."

 

Across two years in Italy, Lukaku hit 64 goals in 95 games, at one every 121 minutes. He bettered his expected goals tally of 57.73 and created 133 chances, having carved out just 82 in 96 games for United.

According to Pastorello, Thomas Tuchel showed a compelling desire to make Lukaku a prize asset at Chelsea, making "a fantastic speech" that convinced the Belgian striker a second spell at Stamford Bridge was the right switch.

"He gave him the feeling that he really wanted him, that he was the perfect last piece in the puzzle," Pastorello said, recalling Tuchel's words to Lukaku before the reported £97.5million transfer. "It's very crucial for a player to decide to go in a team with a coach that really wants him."

After making a fast start at Chelsea, with four goals in his first four games across all competitions, Lukaku finds himself on a seven-goal barren run, with Tuchel saying the striker is mentally fatigued. He is also currently injured, with no clear indication yet of when he might return.

Despite the brouhaha surrounding his early impressive performances, Lukaku's goals in this spell for Chelsea have now come at an average of one every 208 minutes, albeit these are just the early stages of the campaign. The fact Chelsea sit top of the Premier League has eased the pressure on Lukaku to hit another scoring streak.

"Rom's brain and his mind is very focused with Chelsea," Pastorello said. "He will rest a little bit, but he'll be back with more will to win trophies."

Lukaku has missed Chelsea's last two games due to a minor injury sustained in last week's Champions League win over Malmo.

Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta said star duo Nicolo Barella and Lautaro Martinez will extend their contracts with the Serie A champions, while he hit out at former striker Romelu Lukaku.

Barella is contracted to Inter until 2024 amid links with Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, and the Nerazzurri have been determined to tie the Italy international down to a new long-term deal.

Martinez – long linked with LaLiga giants Barcelona – and his current deal does not expire until 2023.

Marotta addressed the futures of Barella and Martinez ahead of Sunday's Derby d'Italia against rivals Juventus, while highlighting the time needed to re-sign midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, who is reportedly wanted by Manchester United and Barca.

"Barella and Lautaro will extend their contract with a pay rise, we are close," Marotta told Il Corriere della Sera.

"Brozovic's contract is expiring, it will take more time, but I am confident."

Marotta, meanwhile, said there is not much difference between Inter's Edin Dzeko and former star Lukaku – who he claims left San Siro for more money.

After leading Inter to the Scudetto last season, Lukaku re-joined Chelsea in a club-record £97.5million (€115m) deal.

Dzeko was brought in from Roma as a replacement for Lukaku ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

"Lukaku was sold for €115m and we bought Dzeko for free. On the pitch, there isn't much difference,” Marotta said. "Lukaku left to double his salary, in Italy these figures can't exist.

"Today, we can't make important investments, I wouldn't be allowed to sign Lukaku for €75m. We need reduced and specific investments."

Barella and Arturo Vidal netted in the last home Serie A match against Juventus – the last Inter midfielder to score in consecutive league seasons against the Bianconeri at San Siro was Lothar Matthaus (in 1989-90 and 1990-91).

Among the 13 teams he has faced at least 10 times in Serie A, Juventus are one of the two against which Dzeko has been involved in the fewest goals (alongside Torino) – only three (two goals and one assist).

Inter have scored 78 goals (in 32 games) in 2021 in Serie A. In the big five European leagues, only Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have netted more (89 in 29 games) this calendar year; Juventus have scored 64 goals in 33 matches.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel insisted his comments about a possible Romelu Lukaku-Erling Haaland partnership were a "joke" as he tried to play down speculation linking the European champions with the Borussia Dortmund star.

Tuchel this week said Chelsea had discussed a move for Haaland and did not rule out partnering the in-demand Norwegian forward with Lukaku at Stamford Bridge.

However, Tuchel backtracked on those comments as Chelsea prepare to host Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday.

"I fell into a trap," Tuchel told reporters, referencing his Bild interview. "I got an award in Germany. I got an award from a newspaper and they asked me about a player.

"Normally I never, never speak about other players because simply I never, ever do.

"Then we were making more or less fun about it. I should have known better because [I was] making fun about it and being a nice guy and answering a question instead of 'no, I don't want to answer a question'.

"Getting this award and I joke about a double striker with Romelu in October and then it gets like we put in an offer. That was the context but OK, I should have known better."

Haaland has 70 goals in 69 games for Dortmund since his arrival in January last year, only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (89 goals in 74 games) has a better return among players from Europe's top-five leagues.

In this season's Bundesliga, Haaland surpassed his expected goal (xG)-value by 2.9 (nine goals, 6.1 xG) – only Bayer Leverkusen sensation Florian Wirtz eclipsed his value (3.0), per Opta.

Since Haaland joined Dortmund, he exceeded his xG-value (38.7) in the Bundesliga by 10.3. It is the highest value of a player in Europe's top-five leagues in this time.

Since Haaland's arrival in Dortmund, he has scored 13 Bundesliga goals after carries – in Europe's top-five leagues, it is only bettered by six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi (15).

In the 2021-22 league campaign, Haaland is one of four players who has been involved on 10 open-play sequences which ended in a goal – together with Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric, Bayern veteran Thomas Muller and Wirtz.

"It is interesting that we as German staff, we become very humble when we see the difference in performance in the Bundesliga and obviously how much harder it is to produce the same numbers in the Premier League," Tuchel added.

"It is, by the way, the big question in every transfer you do. This player performs in Germany, Spain, Italy or the other way around in England, can he also perform in the other country, the other culture, in the other team, in the other style of football? That is for me one of the big questions because you can scout them on any physical, mental level, do tests with them and observe them, how they behave.

"On social media, they let you observe their lives so you know pretty much everything except for the fact what does it mean if you perform in club A in country B, what does it mean for your club C in country D? This will be the question.

"Every player is different so to make it a general rule, it is maybe not possible but it seems it is the toughest league here and to produce outstanding stats. This cannot be a surprise. You are proud to have this league in England and you should be. It is big fun to watch and maybe bigger fun to work in it. That's the way it is."

Thomas Tuchel has confirmed Chelsea will be without Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner for at least the next two matches.

Club-record signing Lukaku was injured by a tackle from Lasse Nielsen that resulted in a penalty Jorginho confidently dispatched to add to Andreas Christensen's opener in Wednesday's 4-0 thrashing of Malmo in the Champions League.

Kai Havertz replaced Lukaku and scored Chelsea's third before playing a role in another spot-kick for the Blues converted by Jorginho, though Chelsea also lost Werner to a hamstring injury.  

Chelsea face the Premier League's bottom side Norwich City on Saturday, before going up against Southampton in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.

Though Tuchel refused to put a definitive timescale on the return of his two first-choice strikers, the former Paris Saint-Germain boss revealed neither will play a part in the two games.

"They're both out for tomorrow, all three of them are out for tomorrow," Tuchel told a news conference, also referring to Christian Pulisic, who has been out since suffering an ankle injury while on international duty in September.

"No big news, for Romelu and Timo the thing I can say is they are out tomorrow and the Southampton game and from there we will see what's next.

"I don't think it makes any sense to speculate how long it will be. The fact is you never know, things can be shorter or longer than expected. The one thing I can tell you for sure is both are in treatment, both are positive but are out for the next two games for sure."

Tuchel's decision to play Lukaku against Malmo has been questioned, with the striker having recently left Belgium's Nations League Finals camp early due to muscle fatigue.

With Chelsea's fixtures before the next international break comparatively kind - trips to Newcastle United and Malmo follow the Southampton match, before a home game with Burnley on November 6 - Tuchel was asked if Lukaku's enforced break had come at a good time.

"No, never a good thing, honestly never a good thing," Tuchel continued.

"Mentally, he was a bit overplayed, like other players in our squad, but that does not mean we have to rest them. Jorginho and Mason Mount are in the same spot but they played a fantastic match, so it is like this, they played a lot of competitions with a lot of enthusiasm and personal targets.

"It was not a muscle injury, it was an accident. It is just some percentage, don't underestimate the effort these players go through. 

"If you constantly turn the wheel, and the guy wants to turn it, take the responsibility, you can get tired. These little things can make a difference."

Chelsea allowed three forwards, Tammy Abraham, Olivier Giroud and Michy Batshuayi to leave in the last transfer window, but Tuchel has no regrets over that decision.

"You cannot keep a squad of 40 players," he added. "If you think Oli, Tammy and Michy would be in the perfect shape now, but hadn't made it into the 20-man squad, then would they be in the perfect shape?

"Of course in theory it would be like this, but [not] in real life. Nobody wants this to happen, it's a bit of bad luck that we have two injured players in the same position, we have to find solutions, there is no worry about the decisions."

Thomas Tuchel has urged Kai Havertz to shine as he gets the opportunity to lead the line for Chelsea with Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner out injured.

Premier League leaders Chelsea host struggling Norwich City on Saturday without those two forwards, who were injured during the 4-0 Champions League victory over Malmo on Wednesday.

Tuchel confirmed Lukaku and Werner will miss at least two games each and suggested it would be Havertz who fills the void after netting against Malmo.

Havertz has only started four of his side's eight league matches this season, scoring once while yet to register an assist, creating only one chance for his team-mates across 320 minutes of action.

Tuchel explained performances were the reason for the Germany international's lack of action and urged him to show his talent in the upcoming games with Norwich and Southampton to build on his last display.

"To speak the truth, there is only one way to make it to the pitch and stay on the pitch, that's performance," Tuchel said at his pre-match news conference.

"Kai was not at his highest level, others were closer to their level, so it was necessary he waited some matches - we felt other guys were in better shape. 

"He did what he needed to do, worked hard, showed resilience, determination to be more decisive, then he got minutes against Brentford, then he scored and was dangerous against Malmo. 

"Here we go, there's so much talent, so much potential and he needs to show it, it is as easy as that. 

"You get the minutes you deserve and the only thing to make it to the team is performance."

Chelsea have won 10 of their last 12 Premier League games against Norwich (D2), last losing against them in the top flight back in 1994. 

Tuchel believes Havertz, who scored the winning goal against Manchester City in the Champions League final at the end of last season, can serve as a similar focal point to Lukaku against the Canaries.

He added: "For me it's not so much a false nine because Kai is also very strong, in the last line, behind the last line, arriving in the box. 

"For me it's a big strength of his, we want this from him and he did against Malmo, so this is more what we expect from him on Saturday. 

"If you have Romelu in the squad, he is the reference you work around. We don't have him, the game will be a bit different but we want the same power, same amount of people in the box when we finish our attacks. 

"For me that does not change."

No side has conceded fewer goals than Chelsea in the Premier League this season (three), while Norwich have the worst attack so far (two goals scored). 

But Norwich will go to Stamford Bridge looking to keep three consecutive Premier League clean sheets for the first time since November 2012, the third game of which was a 1-0 victory against the side who were leading the league at that time, Manchester United.

Replacing Romelu Lukaku was never going to be easy, though, in Edin Dzeko, Inter may have gone some way to doing just that.

The 2021-22 campaign may still be in its infancy, but 35-year-old Dzeko has made a fantastic start as Inter look to defend the Serie A title that Lukaku's goals propelled them towards last season.

Dzeko took his tally for the season to seven with a sublime volley against Sheriff in the Champions League on Tuesday. Inter were pegged back, but the former Roma man turned from scorer to provider to tee up Arturo Vidal and swing the match back in the Nerazzurri's favour.

Heading into the first Derby d'Italia of the season, Simone Inzaghi's Inter sit three points above Juventus, who themselves have had to contend with the loss of a superstar forward.

Cristiano Ronaldo beat Lukaku in the Serie A scoring charts in 2020-21, yet while Inter, spearheaded by Dzeko and Lautaro Martinez, lead the way for goals scored so far this season with 23, Juve are lagging some 11 behind.

Using Opta data, Stats Perform assesses how the two giants of Italian football have adapted – and are still adapting – to the attackers at their disposal, and if that could prove the difference on Sunday.

Replacing Rom

Chelsea broke their transfer record to re-sign Lukaku in August for a whopping £97.5million (€115m). The cash was needed by Inter, who had already sold Achraf Hakimi to Paris Saint-Germain and lost their title-winning coach Antonio Conte as well. Lukaku had initially been happy to stay on under Inzaghi, but the pull of a return to Stamford Bridge ultimately proved too strong to turn down.

Across his two seasons with Inter, Lukaku scored 64 goals in 95 games across all competitions. Last season he scored 24 goals and set up a further 11, putting the suggestion he was merely a penalty box poacher firmly to bed. Indeed, Lukaku's tally of seven secondary assists (the pass before the assist) ranked joint-highest in Italy's top flight.

Lukaku refined his game and has returned to the Premier League a better player, leaving Inter with a huge void to fill. Dzeko represented a prudent option.

Having spent the last six seasons at Roma, Dzeko needed no adaptation to the league. He scored 85 Serie A goals during his spell in the capital, having previously played a huge role in Manchester City's Premier League title successes in 2012 and 2014.

Since his move to Wolfsburg in 2007, Dzeko has only scored under 10 goals in all competitions in three seasons, while he missed only 22 league matches during his stint with Roma. Reliable, experienced and a proven goalscorer. With Inter's financial restraints, it was a no-brainer.

Joaquin Correa, capable of playing anywhere across the frontline, has also come in to boost Inter's ranks, though the start Dzeko has made may have even exceeded the club's expectations. 

Dzeko is averaging just under a goal per game in Serie A, having netted six times across eight appearances, with an impressive shot conversion rate of 35.29 per cent and scoring five of the six big chances that have come his way.

He has also picked up where Lukaku left off in terms of creativity, crafting 15 chances so far across his 11 appearances in all competitions, registering two assists.

 

Partners in crime

Lukaku's departure also left Inter needing to find a suitable partner for Martinez. The duo combined for eight Serie A goals last season, more than any other pairing, albeit the first of those did not arrive until matchday eight in November.

In total, Lukaku found Martinez on 68 occasions in Serie A last term (at an average of 1.9 per game), with 16 of those being key passes, and five resulting in assists.

A brilliant example of their stellar combination in action came in a pivotal 3-1 win over Lazio in February; Lukaku – on a hat-trick at the time – charging clear of a desperate defender before coolly sliding it across for the waiting Martinez to tap in.

Martinez picked out Lukaku 52 times, providing three assists and creating a total of 13 chances for his strike partner. They played 36 league matches together, accumulating 2,069 minutes.

Dzeko too, however, has been able to link up well with Martinez. On average over the seven matches they have played in, he passes to his team-mate 1.7 times per game, with the Bosnia-Herzegovina forward creating two chances for his Argentine counterpart.

Across the 357 minutes played together, the duo have found each other 22 times, though Martinez is yet to craft a chance from those passes.

Inter, who have scored 78 goals across 32 Serie A games in 2021 (only Bayern Munich have managed more across the big five European leagues), would be extremely fortunate if this partnership proves as profitable as the Lukaku-Martinez axis did, though there are certainly bright signs.

 

Replacing Ron

Inter might have struck gold with Dzeko, but Juve have struggled in attack early in Massimiliano Allegri's second spell in charge.

With Ronaldo gone, the onus is on Paulo Dybala. He scored against Udinese in the opening game of 2021-22 and found the net against Sampdoria last month, only to succumb to an injury that has since kept him out.

Only four players across Europe's top five leagues managed more goals in all competitions than Ronaldo did last season (36), while Alvaro Morata (20) and Federico Chiesa (14) were the only other Juve players to get into double figures.

Dybala's injury issues have derailed his last few campaigns, leaving Morata as Juve's main goal threat.

The Spain international enjoyed an impressive partnership with Ronaldo, providing four assists and creating 15 chances in 2020-21, though the favour was not returned – Morata only receiving four key passes from Ronaldo in 27 league matches.

 

Yet if Juve can keep Dybala fit, there may be something for Allegri to build on, with Morata playing more passes to the Argentina forward than he has done to any other team-mate so far this season (12), albeit that has only resulted in one goalscoring opportunity.

Sunday's showdown at San Siro comes too early in the season to be truly decisive, though a second successive home win over Juve would be a huge boost.

In Dzeko and Martinez, Inzaghi has a functioning strike force that has already contributed 12 goals to Inter's cause. Allegri's two central forwards, meanwhile, have only managed six between them. 

Thomas Tuchel rallied Chelsea's bit-part players by telling them "the race is on" to prove themselves after Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner were injured.

Lukaku sustained an ankle injury and Werner hurt his hamstring during the first half of the 4-0 home victory over Malmo in Champions League Group H on Wednesday.

Belgium striker Lukaku was injured by a tackle from Lasse Nielsen that resulted in a penalty Jorginho confidently dispatched to add to Andreas Christensen's opener. 

Kai Havertz replaced Lukaku and scored Chelsea's third before playing a role in another spot-kick for the Blues that was converted by Jorginho. 

Chelsea have five games to come over the next 17 days and Tuchel said there can be no excuses for a decline in results if Lukaku and Werner are sidelined for an extended period. 

"We have a twisted ankle with Romelu and a hamstring injury for Timo, so they will be out for some days, I guess," Tuchel told BT Sport. 

"Normally we're in a good place injury-wise – we had only Christian Pulisic out. But we miss everybody. We have a lot of games to play, a lot of competitions. Now we have to find solutions. No excuses accepted. 

"The two were in good shape and were dangerous and could create and score. Now we need to find solutions and guys who waited for their chance need to step up and prove that they can do the same thing. 

"Whoever it might be, the race is on. The guys who will start against Norwich in the next game have our trust. We will try to find new solutions. 

"Let's stay positive. We won games before without Timo and we won games before without Romelu. We don't want to have these problems too often but these things happen in the season." 

Havertz could now be in line to start against Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday. 

He said: "I came from the bench, you always have to be ready, it is always tough to come in but I tried to do my best in the second half to score a goal, so it is a nice feeling. 

"Timo said they have to do an MRI tomorrow, they are top-level strikers and I hope it's not too bad for them." 

Chelsea cruised to a 4-0 victory over Malmo in Champions League Group H on Wednesday despite losing Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner to injuries. 

After Andreas Christensen scored his first Chelsea goal in his 137th appearance for the club, Lukaku had to go off with an apparent ankle injury after winning a penalty that was fired home by Jorginho. 

Kai Havertz replaced the Belgium international and, after Werner was substituted due to a hamstring issue, increased their lead early in the second half. 

Ballon d'Or nominee Jorginho converted another spot-kick to round off the scoring before the hour mark, though Chelsea remain three points behind group leaders Juventus after the Italian side left it late to beat Zenit 1-0. 

The offside flag spared Werner's blushes after a miskick inside the six-yard box but Chelsea were soon ahead when Christensen volleyed fellow centre-back Thiago Silva's cross into the top-right corner. 

Chelsea were awarded a penalty when Lasse Nielsen scythed down Lukaku in the box and Jorginho confidently sent his spot-kick straight down the middle. 

The Blues suffered another injury blow before half-time with Werner appearing to pull his hamstring while sprinting into the box to support Havertz. 

Havertz was unable to take that opportunity but he got the better of Ismael Diawara – who replaced goalkeeper Johan Dahlin at half-time – three minutes after the restart, dinking fellow substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi's pass in off the post. 

Referee Francois Letexier pointed to the spot again after Eric Larsson bundled Antonio Rudiger over in the box and Jorginho once more produced an unerring finish.

Tuchel took the chance to give N'Golo Kante, Cesar Azpilicueta and Ben Chilwell a rest in the closing stages, with Chelsea seeing out a resounding victory at a canter. 

What does it mean? Chelsea must rely on depth 

With six games to play in the next 17 days, it is unlikely Tuchel will rush Lukaku and Werner back into action even if their injuries are only minor. 

However, the two strikers have struggled for form in recent weeks and Christensen's goal made him Chelsea's 14th different goalscorer this season. 

Havertz also proved himself adept at leading the line, scoring once and play a key role in winning the second penalty. 

Tuchel joins elite group 

This was Tuchel's 10th Champions League game in charge of Chelsea and having kept a clean sheet they have conceded just three times under the German. It is the joint-fewest through a coach's first 10 games for a single club in the competition, joining Fabio Capello (Milan) and Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid). 

Havertz a handful 

No player has scored more goals for Chelsea under Tuchel than Havertz - though Jorginho and Mason Mount also have six. He was a persistent threat during his 70 minutes on the pitch, as he scored and created the chance for Rudiger that resulted in the second penalty. 

What's next? 

Even if Lukaku and Werner are unavailable, Chelsea will feel confident about their chances of securing a result at home to Norwich City in the Premier League on Saturday. 

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