Mauricio Pochettino says Chelsea and Romelu Lukaku must share blame for standoff

Mauricio Pochettino said both sides must take their share of the blame for the long-running standoff between Chelsea and Romelu Lukaku as the forward’s future appears to be unclear.

The Belgium international, who cost £97.5m when he joined from Inter just over two years ago but has not played for the club since May 2022 and has not been given a squad number this season, has made it clear that he is want to leave the club.

But despite interest from the Serie A side in loaning him out like they did last season, Chelsea were unwilling to consider a temporary move and would have preferred him to be sold, although they are interested in it as much as possible to recover from the high transfer fee they have paid.

Pochettino has only one recognized striker available for Sunday’s game at West Ham: summer signing Nicolas Jackson. However, the manager said he expects youngster Armando Broja to play a role this season once he recovers from the cruciate ligament injury that has kept him away since December.

On Lukaku’s prospects for a return to the squad, he said nothing has changed since pre-season, despite the injury of summer signing Christopher Nkunku and the club’s failure to poach Michael Olise from Crystal Palace this week.

“The situation (with Lukaku) was clear before we arrived between the club and the player,” he said. “There is nothing for us to do.

“It’s not just one page. It’s two sides. It’s two sides trying to find the best solution. You can’t just blame the club or the situation. It’s both sides. The situation is twofold. It’s like when a player is in or out. This is because both sides come to an agreement.

“The situation is what it is, we cannot change it. Before we signed we were informed about the situation of every single player and after our signing we had the squad we had. I think it’s so clear that nothing has changed.

“If there is anything to report, the club will inform you.”

My goal is to return to Europe next season in the Champions League. We cannot accept any other idea.

Maurice Pochettino

Chelsea were already struggling with strikers before Pochettino’s arrival at Stamford Bridge.

The team struggled for goals last season while former Arsenal and Barcelona striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was largely sidelined having been signed under former manager Thomas Tuchel, but was considered by subsequent managers Graham Potter and Frank Lampard was considered overwhelmed.

He joined Marseille in July but Pochettino has inherited the uncertainty surrounding Lukaku from his predecessors.

“I have to focus on the team,” he added. “To try to perform. We cannot focus energy on a situation that was clear before we started here.”

The manager also reiterated his goals for the season that nothing short of qualifying for the Champions League can be considered acceptable.

Chelsea finished 12th last season and missed out on participation in the European Championship for only the second time since 1996. However, with £350million spent on summer recruits so far, Pochettino expects the gap to the top four will need to be closed quickly by winning the Premier League title as his next target.

“My intention is to return to Europe next season in the Champions League,” he said. “We cannot accept any other idea (other than) putting the club in the position it deserves.

“If anyone thinks like that, I would be very worried, at this training ground or at Stamford Bridge.

“Today it is so early to think too much about this situation. The idea is to win the Premier League. If someone has another idea, it’s better to share it with us and we say maybe we can find a solution.

“If we can create and perform the way we expect to from day one, that’s a process we need to build on. The mentality has to be to win and expect to play in the Champions League and win the Premier League. If not, we will fail.

“The challenge is to create the mentality that anything is possible.”

Meanwhile, the Blues have confirmed that winger Hakim Ziyech has been loaned to Galatasaray for a season.

The 30-year-old Morocco international, who joined the club from Ajax for £33.3million in the summer of 2020, has made 107 appearances and scored 14 goals.

A statement on Chelsea’s official website read: “Hakim Ziyech is on a season-long loan to Galatasaray and is committed to making this move permanent. We wish Hakim all the best for his upcoming season in Turkey.”

Emma Bowman

Emma Bowman is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Emma Bowman joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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