Rafa Benitez tells Thomas Tuchel to make big Romelu Lukaku decision in FA Cup final vs Liverpool
Former Chelsea interim boss Rafa Benitez has told Thomas Tuchel to drop Romelu Lukaku in favour of Kai Havertz for the FA Cup final against Liverpool on Saturday. It comes after the Belgian has scored three goals in his last three appearances.
Lukaku’s return to form has been a bright spark in a difficult season for the striker, who made the club-record return to Stamford Bridge last summer. The 29-year-old has only managed eight Premier League goals and lost his place to Havertz in the past few months, however the Belgian still remains the Blues’ top scorer across all competitions this campaign.
After his recent scoring run, the striker’s agent claimed he would have a conversation with the board about his future, though Lukaku quickly hit back on social media after. Discussing the scenario, Tuchel said: "I think if he plans to talk with the owner, maybe it is not his plan to talk with me. It's fair enough.
“Let's see if he gets a meeting! It is his right. We will talk to anybody. We will evaluate any situation of any player, including Romelu. We will see what is going to happen and what the plans are."
Instead of pondering the future, attention will firmly be directed towards the FA Cup final on Saturday, where the Blues will be hoping to get revenge for their Carabao Cup final loss earlier in the season.
One of the key decisions that the manager has to make is over his striking options, finding a balance between form and a game plan for dismantling the Reds. Tuchel had hinted before the game that he could start both Lukaku and Havertz together: “Yes, we can also play both, although they lacked a bit of the feeling of being a perfect fit together.
“It's very likely that it is one of the two, but we will not give the line-up today. Listen, Romelu has played lately and scored lately. He did everything to stay on the pitch. Will be our final call in the morning."
However, despite his options, former interim manager Rafa Benitez believes that Lukaku should be dropped in favour of Havertz as a better match against Liverpool. Writing in his Telegraph column, he said: “Chelsea have a lot of offensive options and Romelu Lukaku has started the past two league games, scoring three goals.
“However, Liverpool have centre backs who are big, strong and good in the air and because of those characteristics I think that facing someone like Kai Havertz will cause them more of a problem than a target man. Havertz brings more mobility, with the aim of dragging opponents out of position, and he would be supported by two players behind.”
It remains to be seen whether Tuchel will stick with the same strikers as he chose against Leeds, or if he freshens the side up. No matter the choice though, it could be the deciding factor come Saturday evening when the trophy is lifted.