Romelu Lukaku’s Chelsea future has been thrown into disarray by a recent interview conducted by the Belgian striker.
The 28-year-old has come in for criticism after seemingly hitting out at manager Thomas Tuchel’s tactics, prompting showdown talks with the German.
But it’s not the first time that Lukaku has failed to settle in after a big money move.
Lukaku cost Manchester United £75million in 2017 when he signed from Everton, but left after just two seasons, having seen his importance to the team lessen towards the end of his spell.
Jose Mourinho, the manager who brought Lukaku to Old Trafford, has previously spoken about the love Lukaku needs in order to perform at his best – as was the case in a two-year spell with Inter Milan.
And the assessment is in keeping with the warning Mourinho himself received from Everton director of football Steve Walsh more than four years ago.
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Lukaku scored 68 league goals across four seasons with Everton, with 15 coming when he was on loan at Goodison Park from Chelsea and 53 after signing permanently.
However, after scoring 11 times in his first 10 United games in all competitions, he saw his numbers tail off and left Old Trafford with just 42 from 98 total appearances.
The Belgian was then able to play some of the best football of his career after leaving United for Inter Milan, and Walsh’s comments point to the care which managers have needed to take with him.
“When Jose signed Romelu Lukaku from Everton, I remember saying to him, ‘You have to be careful with Lukaku. He is a big baby, you know.’,” Walsh told The Athletic in 2019.
“He said he could handle him. I don’t think he really got Lukaku on-side mentally, which you have to do.
“That is the case with him and Paul Pogba. They aren’t my type of players. They are more about themselves than the team. I wouldn’t have touched them. Because they are good players doesn’t mean you are going to get a good team out of it.”
When questioned on his decision to leave Lukaku out of his side for the match against Liverpool, the manager made it clear he was worried about the comments from the striker.
“To speak out these things as a big player, a big signing and a key player for us, who behaves on a daily basis like he is absolutely happy, is a concern and a big deal for us,” he said.
“We have to speak to him and he has to speak to us.”
Lukaku might only be a few months into his second spell at Chelsea, but the coming weeks are likely to play a big part in determining whether Walsh’s comments will follow the player around.