Everton F.C. manager Roberto Martinez is convinced that the future of Romelu Lukaku will not be decided until after the World Cup.
The Belgium international, who has spent the past two seasons on loan at West Brom and Everton, is under contract at Stamford Bridge until the summer of 2016.
However, although Lukaku is scheduled to return to Chelsea at the end of the season, increasing speculation is linking the former Anderlecht starlet with a summer exit from West London, and understandably so.
The £20 million-rated 20-year-old ace has made 14 appearances, including just four starts, for the Blues since joining from Anderlecht for an initial fee of €12 million in August 2011.
But when given a proper chance to play every game while on loan, Lukaku has been absolutely sensational, with 32 goals and 10 assists to his name in 70 appearances in all competitions for Albion and Everton.
His future has always been up in the air following his war of words with Jose Mourinho earlier this season but amid reports heavily linking Diego Costa with a big-money move to Chelsea in the summer, a subsequent exit for Lukaku seems a foregone conclusion.
The bigger question is: where will he play his football next season?
Martinez hopes Lukaku will stay on Merseyside but the Belgian is also said to be attracting interest from a host of top European clubs, including the likes of A.S. Roma, AS Monaco, Atlético Madrid, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
“The reason Romelu came to Everton was for him to take a big role, take a lot of responsibility, to start playing 90 minutes and be a real brain in that forward line, and he has done that so we couldn’t be happier,” Martinez told The Liverpool Echo, per Sky Sports.
“The parent club, Chelsea, are delighted with his progress and the player has developed an incredible relationship with our fans. His memories will never evaporate, but we will see what’s next.
“We’ll see what’s the best thing for everyone. But everything will be in stages: how Chelsea are doing in their own squad and how that frees some players.
“It’s going to take a bit of time and I don’t think Romelu’s situation is going to be resolved before the World Cup, in truth. I think it will be after the World Cup.”
Lukaku is priced at 33/1 to win the Golden Boot award at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.