"Lazy" Lukakus woeful workrate vs top-six rivals proves fitness coach was right

Accusations from a former Everton fitness coach that Romelu Lukaku is "lazy" appear to have been justified as startlingly statistics have shed light on the Chelsea striker's woeful work-rate.

The Belgian completed a sensational £97.5million Stamford Bridge return last summer following Serie A success with Inter Milan. The 28-year-old made a stunning start to his second stint with the Blues, netting four times in his first three appearances following his resigning.

However, Lukaku's season has swiftly gone downhill. Since sustaining an ankle injury in the Champions League back in October and seeing his future shrouded in uncertainty following a controversial interview, the Chelsea hitman has endured a dire run of form.

Lukaku has fallen behind makeshift forward Kai Havertz in Thomas Tuchel's pecking order with his work-rate for the Blues being called into question of late. And it isn't for the first time in his career.

Jan Kluitenberg, a former fitness coach who worked closely with Lukaku at Everton under Ronald Koeman, told the Liverpool Echo last year: "Romelu wasn’t a fan of training, if I have to be honest. He was a little bit lazy.

"My challenge is always to make it clear in my mind what the players need. In the case of Romelu, I said to Ronald: ‘Let’s sit with him and make it clear for him’ because he has speed, he’s powerful, he’s really a good athlete, but in some details it is not always about being stronger or faster."

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Kluitenberg's claims appear to have been justified this season, as highlighted by a graphic displayed on Sky Sports during their Monday Night Football coverage this week. Lukaku was bottom of a table displaying the work-rate of a selected group of strikers from the Premier League's 'Big Six' teams.

The graphic revealed that the Belgian forward has covered a mere 8.9km and completed only 10 sprints on average per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season. By contrast, his Chelsea team-mate Havertz ranked fourth, averaging 11km of distance covered and 19.8 sprints per match.

The table makes for damning reading and highlights exactly why Lukaku has found himself scarcely used by Tuchel in recent weeks. If he harbours any hopes of reclaiming a starting spot in Tuchel's team, Lukaku may first have to shake off the "lazy" tag he has been labelled with.

Striker work-rate (PL stats per 90 this season, 'Big Six' teams)

Roberto Firmino – 11.7km distance / 20.4 sprints

Edinson Cavani – 11.7km distance / 13.5 sprints

Phil Foden – 11.4km distance / 21.9 sprints

Kai Havertz – 11km distance / 19.8 sprints

Diogo Jota – 10.8km distance / 18.3 sprints

Harry Kane – 10.7km distance / 10.6 sprints

Alexandre Lacazette – 10.4km distance / 14.2 sprints

Son Heung-min – 10.2km distance / 20.6 sprints

Raheem Sterling – 10.1km distance / 19.7 sprints

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – 10.1km distance / 17.3 sprints

Cristiano Ronldo – 9.2km distance / 15.8 sprints

Romelu Lukaku – 8.9km distance / 10 sprints

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