By Nick Purewal, PA
Thomas Tuchel believes top international stars like Romelu Lukaku are “overplayed” and suffering due to football’s crowded calendar.
Chelsea boss Tuchel has lamented “too much football in too many competitions”, insisting the impact of balancing both club and country commitments is taking its toll on the Blues’ shining lights.
Belgium striker Lukaku has drawn a six-game goal blank for Chelsea after starting with four in four following his £98million (€116) summer switch from Inter Milan.
England forward Mount has found himself a rare Chelsea replacement due to sheer volume of matches and manager Tuchel has offered a candid insight into the modern game’s rigours.
“In this very moment I feel Romelu is a bit overplayed, I think he played too many competitions over the summer, too many competitions with the national team,” said Tuchel.
“And now he has played the Nations League.
“He is a fantastic athlete and such a competitive guy that he digs in deep, he wants to win these things, and he never takes it easy and judges games.
“He wants to be out there and win.
“So I know how much he wanted to have a good outcome for Belgium in the Euros, and the Nations League meant a lot to him too.
“It was a huge match for him personally, it means a lot to him to play for his country. So he takes it really seriously.
“And if it doesn’t go well he always takes it on his shoulders.
“I feel him a bit tired, not that we have a concern, but for me, it’s that he doesn’t fully enjoy it without having second or third thoughts.
“For me, he is overplayed a little bit. And this is the key point.
“Once he finds his rhythm he will find things a bit easier.
“But it’s difficult to judge whether he needs a break or he needs to keep playing.
“And it’s the same for some other players too, Mason and Jorgi (Jorginho).
“They have a lot of weight to carry for their countries. They take it, and they love it, they are competitors.
“But if you play a thousand matches a year it can feel a bit heavy, although they love the game.
“They are such good guys, but this is what I feel just between the lines.”
The gaffer called it! 👏 pic.twitter.com/NgLyIeiJeI
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) October 19, 2021
Chelsea sit top of the Premier League table but have not been shy to admit struggling to find their attacking rhythm.
Tuchel revealed his players are lacking a level of “joy” due to the sheer demands on their time — but also insisted the Blues must not fret if the net result of flailing for fluency still remains a winning run.
“Our players? Yes, I think we lack a little bit of form and enthusiasm in the last percent and I think that one big reason is that we play too much,” said Tuchel.
“Not we as a club, but the players play too much.
“Sometimes things can look a bit harder than it should be, but don’t forget this is the Premier League.
“It is the toughest league in the world and there is no shame in having a tight match against Brentford and there is absolutely no shame in getting a late winner against Southampton, it is what it is.
“It is important that we are not too critical of ourselves. You have hard moments, you fight through them and be a team nobody likes to play against.
“It isn’t easy for any team in the Premier League to win any game, so maybe this is normal, and we have to embrace the situation that is difficult at the moment. We are finding our ways to win the games at the moment.
“There is still room to improve, and we lack form and freshness, a bit of joy, and for me a key reason is not the mentality or attitude.
“If you think about it, if you travel through time zones, in a hotel, then you change the hotel, one day at home, see family, then back to the hotel, play at Brentford, then it’s Champions League, it can be tiring and I can only repeat, I am a big, big friend of quality and quality players need to be in shape.
“This is simply too much football in too many competitions.”