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Paolo Di Canio has slammed Romelu Lukaku as “arrogant” and “fragile” after the Chelsea striker admitted he is unhappy with his role at Stamford Bridge.
In an explosive interview released by Sky Sport Italia last week, Lukaku spoke about his frustrations since joining Chelsea in a £97.5m move from Inter Milan last summer and expressed his desire to return to the San Siro in the future.
Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel described the interview as “noise we don’t need” and subsequently dropped Lukaku from the squad for Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Liverpool.
Former West Ham striker Di Canio has now laid into Lukaku, claiming Inter Milan would have won Serie A last season even without the Belgium international.
“This interview shows the weakness of an athlete who after six months gives up, perhaps because he arrived there with the arrogance of someone who doesn’t realise what his real level is,” Di Canio told Sky Sport Italia, per Football Italia.
“He won the Scudetto in Italy as a co-protagonist with his other team-mates, but he’s no Lionel Messi.
“Inter would’ve won even without him, if they had Duvan Zapata or someone like that upfront. He is a functional player who did his duty in that team.
“He then went to the champions of Europe, in the Premier League against sides like Manchester City and Liverpool, where he is just one of many big names.
“If you arrive at Chelsea and think you’re going to be number one, you are in for a rude awakening!
“Chelsea played much better without Lukaku. He is a fragile player, so he seems to have character, but when he talks like that, the truth is he is very fragile.”
Tuchel is set to hold talks with Lukaku on Monday over the striker returning to the squad.
Chelsea next face London rivals Tottenham in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Lukaku is interested in moving to Spurs in the summer to reunite with his former Inter manager Antonio Conte.
When asked about Lukaku’s controversial interview earlier this month, Conte told Sky Sports: ”Lukaku's words?”
“I feel great affection for him but he’s Chelsea player.”
While Lukaku is unlikely to be a transfer target for Tottenham in January, Spurs are expected to bring in new players this month.
“For sure (we need to strengthen),” Conte said.
“After only two weeks I said we needed to improve the quality of this squad.
“I was sure after seven to 10 days about this. Then I had to make the evaluation over who I can count on and who I can't.
“The gap is very large and we need to work a lot and try to improve our squad.”