ROMELU LUKAKU has been left OUT of Chelsea's matchday squad to face title challengers Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.
The 28-year-old has been replaced by Kai Havertz in the starting XI after he revealed he never wanted to leave Inter Milan last summer.
His sensational revelation has rubbed boss Thomas Tuchel the wrong way as he has instantly punished the Belgium international by omitting him from the team to face the Reds.
Instead, Tuchel has opted for a front three consisting of Mason Mount, Christian Pulisic and Havertz.
Both Chelsea and Liverpool are over ten points adrift of league leaders Manchester City going into the clash.
In the interview with Sky Italia, Lukaku said: "If there had been the offer of a new contract from Inter last summer as I wanted, we would not be doing this interview now here from London, but quietly from Milan.
"In that case I would have stayed at Inter 100 per cent last summer. No need to discuss that.
“I’m always thinking about Milano, Milano, Milano. Inter fans are the best in the world. I love the city and the best moment of my career was at Inter.
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“I am in love with Italy – I have Inter in my heart.”
Lukaku also told his former strike partner Lautaro Martinez to 'stay in Milan' as he will 'be back there'.
He said: "I miss Lautaro Martinez, I could die on the pitch for him since day one I met him.
“Lautaro Martinez coming here with me at Chelsea in the future? No, Lautaro, you can stay in Milan, I’ll be back there…"
After recently stating that Lukaku will face future disciplinary action, Tuchel has declared why he left the player out of his squad to face Liverpool.
He told Sky Sports: "The thing got too big, too noisy, so close to the match, so I decided to protect the preparation for the match, so that is why he is out.
"We delayed the decision over what to do, but we have to protect the preparation for the match, we have a big game to play.
“Of course we have spoken, twice. And to the main players, but after that we had to realise it was too close to the match, it’s too big.
“Full focus, which is hard to get even without this decision, was easier in my opinion if he is not in the squad, and that is why we did it.
"It was a difficult decision, but in my opinion it was the decision to take.”
Chelsea somehow have to banish the frustrations at the build-up to the game to somehow summon up the strength to produce their best football at a time when their form is disappointing at best.
Injuries to Reece James and Ben Chilwell have completely ripped the attacking threat of the team out of the side on both wings, while the squad has other fitness and illness worries to contend with.
They know there is little margin to slip up with City setting such a hot pace in the race to be crowned Premier League champions.
Neither Tuchel or Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp would concede the title if they were to lose today's game, but realistically defeat would leave the losers with an almost insurmountable mountain to climb.
And with the likes of Arsenal and Tottenham showing improving form, the threat from behind cannot be underestimated in the battle for Champions League football next season.
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