Everton F.C. manager Roberto Martinez is hoping Romelu Lukaku stays at Goodison Park next season amid speculation linking him with a summer exit from Chelsea.
The Belgium international, 20, joined Chelsea from Jupiler Pro League side R.S.C. Anderlecht for an initial fee of €12 million, potentially rising to €20 million, in August 2011.
Once tipped as the heir apparent to club legend Didier Drogba, Lukaku now seems increasingly likely to leave West London for pastures new when the transfer window re-opens in the summer.
After netting 17 goals in 35 league appearances for West Bromwich Albion last term, the 20-year-old ace — priced at 33/1 to win the 2014 World Cup Golden Boost award — was fancied by many to be the Blues’ No. 1 striker in 2013/14.
But a missed penalty in the UEFA Super Cup against Bayern Munich changed everything for the Belgian forward, as the treble winners handed Jose Mourinho his first competitive defeat of the new campaign at the Stadion Eden on 30 August.
However, is must be said that Lukaku, who stands at 1.90 metres tall and weighs in at around 100 kilograms, will not be short of potential suitors, with Everton boss Roberto Martinez keen to keep the physically imposing Belgian.
“You are not gambling on him doing things well because you know what he can bring and it’s a perfect fit in that respect,” said Martinez.
“If we can extend his stay then fantastic. If not, we will have great memories.
“I think there is something we can give that he can’t get elsewhere, it’s enjoying his football.
“In football, as a player, you can take football happiness for granted quickly. As a young man, to be important in a football club and being happy is vital.
“Nobody can guarantee you that unless you’ve experienced it, or know who you are going to work with.
“I know players in the past who have moved clubs because they want to win titles and they leave a club and then the club they left win the title.
“He wants to be presented with a challenge that he can enjoy and he can develop, and that’s top and bottom as a player.
“He’s a grounded and intelligent young man, who is not going to be swayed by the materialistic aspect of the game or something that has got no substance.”
Lukaku — rumoured to be attracting interest from a host of top European clubs, including the likes of A.S. Roma, Atlético Madrid and Monaco — has bagged 13 goals and six assists in 26 English Premier League appearances for the Toffees this season.