Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has suggested out-of-favour striker Romelu Lukaku may have to leave Chelsea with the World Cup in Qatar on the horizon. Chelsea forked out a club-record fee that was reported to be £97.5million (€115m) to take Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge from Inter last August.
Lukaku’s second spell with Chelsea has not gone to plan so far, though, and the 28-year-old did not do himself any favours by telling Sky Sport Italia that he was unhappy with his situation with the European champions after losing his place in the side. The former Everton and Manchester United frontman remains out of favour, having scored only 12 goals in 35 appearances this season under Thomas Tuchel.
Martinez hinted that the Red Devils’ all-time leading scorer may have to seek pastures new if he is unable to force his way back into the Blues side, so he is firing on all cylinders in Qatar later this year. “We are talking about players, like Romelu, who have got over 100 caps and are part of this group of players who know the national team inside out,” the Spaniard told The Sun. “I’m not going to judge or assess the condition of any player until after the summer because it is not a normal situation.”
“It is still seven months to the World Cup and probably you will go into the details of how a player feels when it gets closer to it than now. But there will be a lot of players who change clubs or are going to feel in a different way in the summer. Romelu needs to be assessed on how he feels in September, the same way Eden Hazard does and some others. But he is one of the players for whom the summer could be a big moment for their careers.”
Martinez, however, says Lukaku is ready to fight for his place in Tuchel’s team. He added: “We always speak. I have a very close relationship with all my players. I would never tell a player what to do but we always share thoughts. At the moment Romelu is in a good place. He is so committed. He was delighted to win the Club World Cup and the next step is to finish the season strong with Chelsea and make sure he can feel very important.”