Chelsea Have Managed The Absence Of Star-Studded Signing Romelu Lukaku Almost Too Well

The 28-year-old striker, who returned to Stamford Bridge in the summer from Inter Milan for an estimated £97 million, was pulled from proceedings inside the opening half an hour of the Blues’ home tie against Malmo due to injury.

Lukaku handed the torch over to Kai Havertz and the German led Chelsea’s line with ease, guiding Tuchel through a six-game unbeaten run consisting of four wins inside 90 minutes.

Belgium’s all-time top goalscorer is nearing a return to action but the Blues must consider whether his immediate integration back into Chelsea’s starting eleven is the best option.

Newson kickstarted the discussion by declaring his hesitance regarding the west London side’s fluidity once Lukaku is reintroduced into Tuchel’s setup.

“There is still that little doubt in my mind about how we see Chelsea when Lukaku’s fit and if he’s ready he’ll start,” Newson said.

Inkersole agreed but questioned the role in which Lukaku will be handed upon his return to the side following Kai Havertz’s success almost as a roaming false nine.

“In those final games before his injury they started to use him as a target man and it wasn’t really working out,” he said.

“He didn’t quite look like a fluid part of the team. Chelsea really haven’t struggled in his absence at all despite concerns that they would struggle without him, understandably – he’s one of the elite strikers in the world.

“When you bring him back in, do you use him how Havertz has been used and let him wander across that front three or do you use him as that target man and play off him?”

Inkersole concluded by detailing how Lukaku’s absence has handed Chelsea a boost, forcing Tuchel to devise a plan b.

“He knows how to set up now without Lukaku, he has that plan b that he knows is effective and knows can work,” he said, before shining a light on the opportunity that the Belgian’s return offers the fringe players.

“Tuchel has said that Mason Mount and Mateo Kovacic are the only ones who have really struck up some sort of relationship with him on the pitch so some other players are going to have to step up and fill that void.”

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