On Tuesday night there was a furore as the news broke that Everton striker Romelu Lukaku had decided to snub the offer of a new contract with the club.
It was not a major surprise because my gut feeling told me the negotiations were dragging out for too long.
Just a few days ago, in one of my editorials I asked the question will Lukaku be plying his trade at Everton next season.
This was despite the fact that according to his agent Mino Raiola had previously stated that a new deal was 99.9 complete.
However, since it was first stated a few weeks have passed and the big Belgium striker has not signed the new contract as expected. Instead last night it was revealed he had turned the offer down.
Lukaku has not said he is leaving
However, a number of people are jumping the gun about Lukaku’s refusal to sign this new contract. It is not like he has announced that he will never play for the club again or even wants to leave the club.
He has hinted in the past that he wants to play Champions League football. However, he has remained at Everton.
Partly due to the Toffees unwillingness to be bullied into selling him for a fee they feel is lower than his market value and partly due to no other club being prepared to stump up the required fee for the player.
As Toffees majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri reportedly stated, he is still an Everton player. The two parties may well still come to an agreement on a contract extension, however unlikely that may seem.
If there is a fresh agreement then it is certain to contain a massive release clause in the contract. According to some reports, the problem with the last offer was that Lukaku’s camp wanted the release clause to be around £70million, while Everton wanted it to be £90million to remain in control of the situation.
In-demand this summer
If Everton decides to sell Lukaku this summer, and that’s a big if, the striker will be majorly in-demand. Lukaku has long been linked with a return to former club Chelsea, who were reportedly interested in signing the 23-year-old last summer.
With Diego Costa’s long-term future at Stamford Bridge still in doubt, the Blues may be looking at the Belgian striker as a potential replacement for the Spanish international.
In terms of scoring goals this season, Lukaku has 19 Premier League goals compared to 18 for Costa. There is not much difference. There is, however, a difference in age and potential.
Costa is in his prime. However, he is unlikely to get much better than his current ability, while Lukaku is younger and still has immense potential.
While Chelsea has been the main team linked with the striker, Manchester United are also believed to be interested in the forward. The Red Devils first choice forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract expires in the summer, so Lukaku may be regarded as an alternative to the Swede.
Everton moving forward under Koeman
It would be a shame to see Lukaku leave Everton in the summer. The Toffees finally look like they are moving in the right direction. They are currently seventh in the table but are odds of 6/1 to finish in the top six this season.
If it were not for a poor run of form just prior to Christmas, Everton probably would have been challenging for the top four this season. Lukaku must be able to see that the Merseysiders are on the up.
Maybe he can, but is not patient enough to wait for Koeman and the clubs owners to build a side capable of challenging for the top four. He has spouted off so many times about wanting to play Champions League football, without realising he is just at the start of his career.
With major financial backing now at the club, Everton are set to add more quality players to their squad in the summer. The Toffees will not want to lose Lukaku and are in a position of power at the moment.
They will not be bullied into selling the striker and the Toffees will win even if he only stays for another 12 months, as they will more than likely be closer to the top four spots than at the present moment. If they then finish in the Champions League spots, Lukaku could then have a difficult decision to make.
Everton are in a good position if he stays or if he goes this summer. If he stays his goals are likely to help the team progress next season.
If he leaves then the club will have likely doubled their money and the shrewd Koeman can set about attempting to strengthen the team with the fee. One thing is for sure we have not heard the last of this saga, which could well keep rumbling on for months to come.
Where will Romelu Lukaku be playing his football next season?
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