Chelsea have failed to “figure out how to use” Romelu Lukaku, with former Blues and Inter boss Antonio Conte questioning Thomas Tuchel’s tactical approach.
The Belgium international striker was taken back to Stamford Bridge for a second spell during the summer transfer window in a £98 million ($136m) deal.
Lukaku hit the ground running in west London with a goal against Arsenal on debut and four efforts in his first four appearances, but has since gone four games without finding the target.
Lukaku’s latest blank came in the 1-0 Champions League defeat at Juventus, with Conte – who saw Lukaku inspire his Inter side to Serie A title glory last season – telling Sky Sport Italia: “I think he can still do better, above all with his technique. He is already at a very high level, but a player must keep improving until the day he retires.
“During the game, there are moments when Lukaku needs to be turned on, but other than that he is one of the toughest forwards to play against because he can do damage in any area of the pitch.
“If you have a centre-forward like that, you need to use him and I don’t think Chelsea have quite figured out how to use him yet.
“Last season, they didn’t have a proper centre-forward, so they rotated positions, whereas Romelu is a real reference point in attack. If they can figure out how to use Lukaku, then Chelsea can become the team to beat in the Champions League this season.”
The expectation is Tuchel and Chelsea will find a way of bringing the best out of Lukaku as tweaks are made to their system.
Conte, who delivered Premier League title glory at Stamford Bridge, hopes that will be the case having helped to develop the game of one of the most fearsome forwards in world football.
He added: “A coach is good if he can improve players. I think we did great work with Romelu over two years.
“He is a very specific striker. Bringing Lukaku into the box, he is dangerous. However, when he starts from midfield, he is incredibly quick. It is very difficult to find a player who is both a target man, but can also run from midfield.
“These are also characteristics I can see in Erling Haaland. I had been tracking Lukaku for a very long time and wanted him when I was at Chelsea, even when he was at West Brom.”