Romelu Lukaku’s public fallout with Chelsea and head coach Thomas Tuchel is set to reach a conclusion as the pair engage in clear-the-air talks on Monday.
But while the nature of his controversial comments may have come as a shock, it is merely the latest run-in with one of his bosses.
Lukaku was dropped by Tuchel for the Blues’ 2-2 draw with Liverpool on Sunday when his interview with Sky Sports Italy was published three weeks after it was recorded.
In the extraordinary interview, the Belgian took aim at Tuchel for going back on his word on what system to play with and the 28-year-old then claimed he would return to Inter Milan — just five months after his club-record move.
Such comments, just two days before the crucial clash against title rivals Liverpool, were not welcomed by the club and Tuchel responded by removing him from the squad.
But it is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Lukaku’s previous encounters with his former managers, with the £97.5million man already playing for his sixth different club.
Since his move to England a decade ago for £18million, Lukaku has featured under nine managers in England and Italy — and perhaps predictably, things have not always gone smoothly for the outspoken striker.
Mirror Football looks at how Lukaku judged working under his previous managers — and what happened next…
Andre Villas-Boas — Chelsea (2011-12)
The Portuguese boss may have failed to see out his Chelsea revolution after dropping senior players such as Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard, but bringing in Lukaku as a promising 18-year-old turned out to be a stellar piece of business.
Lukaku had arrived from Anderlecht with high expectations and wanted game time straight away, but the young Belgian had Drogba, Fernando Torres and Nicolas Anelka ahead of him in the pecking order.
The majority of his 10 appearances were from the bench and Lukaku failed to find the net in any of them before leaving on loan to West Brom in 2012.
Lukaku insisted he will “never forgive” Villas-Boas for refusing to allow him a part in Chelsea’s Champions League-winning campaign in 2011-12 and hit out at his management.
“[Under AVB] I had to play in the front left, another time in the front right. You don’t develop that way,” he told Het Laatste Nieuws in 2020.
“Then at some point you have to think about yourself. So I told the club what I thought of it. I know AVB was under pressure, but that’s why he didn’t have to treat me like that.”
Steve Clarke — West Brom (2012-13)
After being loaned to The Baggies to gain experience of first-team football, Lukaku impressed at The Hawthorns, scoring 17 goals in the Premier League.
His goals helped West Brom stay in the top flight and Clarke was keen to keep Lukaku for another season, but Chelsea had bigger plans for their striker.
The pair appear to have maintained a positive relationship since then, with Lukaku recently apologising to Clarke after scoring against Scotland at international level.
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Jose Mourinho — Chelsea (2013-14)
Lukau’s brief run under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea came to an abrupt halt when he missed a penalty against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Super Cup penalty shootout.
Mourinho explained how he had to let Lukaku leave after wanting to be their first-choice striker and subsequently shipped him off on loan to Everton, where he excelled in his first season at Goodison Park.
Despite being frustrated by his lack of game time, Lukaku spoke highly of the Portuguese tactician.
“I’ve had Jose Mourinho as a coach for two months. Something special,” he said.
“He’s building the foundations of an unbeatable machine again. We didn’t have problems. He wanted me to stay and asked me why I wanted to leave.
“In some interviews my words were twisted, but the truth is that he accepted to let me leave. He did understand what I wanted. That’s what I really appreciate in him.”
Roberto Martinez — Everton (2014-16)
Arguably, there is been no bigger advocate for Lukaku in his career than the former Everton boss. Roberto Martinez made Lukaku his main man to build the team around, splashing out a then-record £28m fee to sign him from Chelsea.
Lukaku responded with 25 goals in all competitions in the 2015-16 season, but Martinez was later sacked after guiding the Toffees to a 12th-place finish.
The Spaniard has been Belgium’s national team coach since 2016, reuniting him with Lukaku, and he has found devastating form with the Red Devils since then — becoming the nation’s all-time top goalscorer on 68 goals in 101 caps.
The 48-year-old praised him as the complete centre-forward after completing his move to Chelsea, saying: “He can do everything you want from a striker. He can play with his back to goal or run in behind. He has power and intelligence.
“He has every single function you would want from a centre-forward.
“His time in Italy with Inter Milan gave him another degree of maturity and this is a great moment in his career and the most outstanding thing about him is his goalscoring.”
Ronald Koeman — Everton (2016-17)
Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images)
It was not Lukaku’s longest stint working under a manager, but his time spent with Ronald Koeman might have been his most productive.
Lukaku smashed in 25 goals in the Premier League — a career-best for the 28-year-old — as Everton finished seventh under Koeman.
When asked if he enjoyed working under him, he replied: ”Yes, I love Koeman!
“When Koeman came to Everton and we had our first phone call I said to him, ‘Look coach I’m leaving’. I had an offer from Chelsea at that moment.
“He said, ‘Yes I get it. I was in a similar situation when I was at PSV and went to Barcelona ’ … That’s when I thought he’s honest, he’s open. It wouldn’t be a punishment to play another year for him.”
Jose Mourinho — Manchester United (2017-18)
It was no surprise to see that, after witnessing their mutual admiration at Chelsea, Mourinho would return one day to sign Lukaku.
Man United shelled out £75m to prise him away from Everton and the striker fared well in his first season at Old Trafford, scoring 27 goals in all competitions.
However, injuries began to hamper his form on the pitch and eventually he lost his place to talents such as Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
Mourinho was later sacked in December 2018, with Lukaku claiming he was made a “scapegoat” for the team’s failure to challenge for the title. But the Portuguese has since stuck by the striker and insisted he was still developing, pointing to his later success with Inter.
“At Chelsea, he was still a kid. At Manchester United, he was still developing. At Inter he became the top man,” he said.
“He became loved – a big love from the supporters, love from teammates, great relations with the coach.
“He’s a big guy, physically so strong, but there is also a kid inside who needs that love, needs that support, needs to feel important.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — Manchester United (2018-19)
But after Mourinho left, Lukaku no longer felt important. He was eventually phased out of the starting XI by Solskjaer, who preferred pacy forward such as Rashford and Martial.
As the Norwegian received the permanent job in March, Solskjaer set about making big-money signings of his own and decided to cash in on Lukaku while he could.
The frontman headed to the San Siro in a £75m deal and, despite their fractious working relationship, Lukaku holds a high opinion of Solskjaer.
“You guys have to know I love him as a manager and as a person and I wish him nothing but the best,” Lukaku said during a fan Q&A back in 2019.
But it was only later that his comments to Corriere dello Sport underlined how their relations became strained, as the forward revealed his reasons for leaving.
“Once I learned that [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer planned to put me on the wing, then I knew my time at Manchester United was over,” he told the Italian outlet.
Antonio Conte — Inter Milan (2019-2021)
Much like Martinez, Antonio Conte has fought to sign and keep Lukaku whenever possible. In 2017, he lost out on Man United to the striker but two years later brought him to Inter Milan.
The pair celebrated winning the Scudetto for the first time in a decade, and Lukaku played a key role with a 24-goal haul for the Nerazzurri. Indeed, Conte resigned he learned the club planned to sell Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi to raise funds to ease their financial burden.
Now at Spurs, Conte would no doubt relish the chance to reunite with the striker at Tottenham, where he now works. But the clubs’ bitter rivalry would surely deny the Italian his wish for a reunion.
”Lukaku words?” he said to Sky Sports. “I feel great affection for him but he’s Chelsea player.”
Thomas Tuchel — Chelsea (2021-Present)
And now, for the final fallout. Thomas Tuchel probably felt he had solved all of his striker problems when signing a player of Lukaku’s calibre. Instead, he received the pain of being publicly criticised by his own record signing.
Only days ago, the German had spoken to Lukaku about his role at the club and hailed the striker’s efforts after scoring against Aston Villa and Brighton.
“The things he brings when he is in the dressing room,” Tuchel said. “in the building, even when he is injured, he is every day here, positive, determined, he pushes everybody.
“He is a top professional and a top, top striker. He will be super and he is actually in the moment very important.”
One can only wonder if Tuchel holds those same feelings now after Lukaku’s ill-advised comments.