By Noel Whelan

16th May, 2022 | 4:32pm

Chelsea plotting cut-price Romelu Lukaku sale after talks claim - pundit

Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea could be trying to “drum up interest” in Romelu Lukaku by restoring him to the attack in recent weeks, according to Noel Whelan.

The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, claimed the Blues will be forced to take a “huge loss” on the 29-year-old if he is to leave this summer.

In an interview with La Repubblica (13 May), Lukaku’s agent Federico Pastorello suggested the Belgian striker has a “problem” at Chelsea and hinted at showdown talks at the end of the season to decide his future – a claim the former Man United man has refuted.

Lukaku has started each of Chelsea’s last three games across all competitions, scoring three goals.

He had started just one of the previous ten fixtures.

Whelan insisted there can be only “one reason” for Lukaku’s return with fellow forward Kai Havertz in fine goalscoring form this term.

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“I think he’s only come back into the side for one reason,” he told Football Insider‘s Ewan Kingsbury.

“Chelsea are trying to drum up some interest and get some potential suitors to come in for him.

“He’s not done badly in front of goal in the last few weeks. However, it’s still going to be a huge loss for Chelsea.

“He’s not done anywhere near enough to warrant the price tag they paid.

“I don’t think Chelsea will be bothered. They’ll just want players who are committed to the cause. They’ll want players who don’t bring the endless distractions Lukaku has.”

Third-placed Chelsea paid a reported £97.5million for Lukaku’s services last summer (2021).

He has scored 15 goals in 43 games across all competitions so far this term.

In other news, pundit issues “huge” Mason Mount claim after Chelsea contract talks twist.