Romelu Lukaku wants to play for a club in the Champions League next season.
That club could, and should, have been Everton.
Boasting the best squad in over two decades, this was meant to be the season Everton took a giant leap forward. The season the potential was realised. The season the Toffees set themselves up to return to the glory days. Farhad Moshiri’s investment would only accelerate the climb to the top.
However, it’s not been the case; we’ve blown it. We’ve regressed. The 2015/16 campaign was a crossroads for the club and we’ve taken the wrong turn. Roberto Martinez has led us in the wrong direction and it’s going to cost us; cost us the total of a striker worth his weight in goals.
Everton have finally received new funds – a boost the club has craved for years – but we’ve failed on the pitch. The medicore league position Everton will ultimately finish in this season means, rather than adding quality to the squad this summer, a rebuild job will be the task in hand.
The Toffees have failed on the pitch one too many times – failures which now see the star man believing he must jump the Goodison ship for a better chance of silverware.
Romelu Lukaku is one of the most ambitious players in world football. As a youngster in Belgium he dreamed of lifting trophies. The World Cup, the European Cup, the league title. You name it, he is aiming for it.
Unfortunately for Evertonians, he did not dream of finishing mid-table and reaching two cup semi-finals.
Lukaku doesn’t want to be a nearly man when he has shown he can be the man having hit the back of the net 25 times already this term.
‘Big Rom’ is determined to get to the top and, having proved himself with over 100 career goals by the age of 22, he’s now got plenty of suitors.
Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Real Madrid have all been linked with the forward. Linked by his agent Mino Raiola no doubt, but linked nonetheless. Teams across Europe will be queuing up for his services.
Such talk is expected from Raiola but comments of moving on made by Lukaku and his father over the last week have been hugely disrespectful to the club who believed in him when others didn’t. Surely he has greater regard for Everton than to openly talk of his wish to play for another team?
It doesn’t sit right, but on the other hand, who can blame him for wanting to switch clubs when Everton continue to let him down when he so often delivers?
It’s not about increasing his pay packet with Lukaku, that is not why he wants to head for the exit – it’s about ambition and realising his potential. He’s been wasted at Everton this season. It was up to manager Martinez to show him we could compete but we’ve not even challenged this year. We’ve floundered.
Having done exceptionally well to land the striker – making him the most expensive buy in Everton’s history at a staggering £28million – Martinez is chiefly to blame for Lukaku’s wish to leave.
The Spaniard has laid down some brilliant foundations over the last three years but too many below-par performances could well see the team crumble this summer. Martinez’s poor in-game management has seen us blown so many leads and lost us so many points. The Everton manager’s mistakes have left us in the bottom half of the table where Lukaku does not want to be.
This was the season Everton had to be successful. Defending champions Chelsea have been dismal, Manchester United can barely buy a shot on target – never mind a goal, Arsenal have seemingly fluffed their lines again and Manchester City’s stars are well off the pace. Pre-season relegation favourites Leicester are top with an exciting Tottenham side in second. Where are Everton? Below them all.
Martinez said on Friday of Lukaku’s desire to play in Europe’s top competition: ‘The Champions League should be an aspiration for everyone. We’ve got that aspiration. The players need to be part of that.’
Unfortunately aspiration is no longer enough; especially when you are sat 12th in the Premier League table. Only playing in the Champions League will suffice for a player of Lukaku’s capabilities. With two months of the season to play, it seems he has decided his future lies elsewehere.
Everton’s task this season was to prove to Lukaku that they were the club capable of making his footballing dreams a reality. The campaign has instead been a nightmare and any hopes of keeping the forward have rapidly diminished.
The FA Cup could provide salvation but will it be enough to convince Lukaku to turn down the best clubs in the world? Doubtful. Would an FA Cup triumph and a place in the top four have swayed his decision to stay with Everton? Definitley, but that is not going to happen. Not this year.
Lukaku has outgrown us, he’s become too good compared with our performances and results. He deserves better. The Everton squad and management have let him down by not matching his standards.
For every goal he scores, Everton concede two. For every time we fail to play him in, he grows more frustrated at a lack of service. He looks so forlorn when his goals continually get cancelled out – he can’t do much more. He does his job but those around him are not.
Everton could choose to stand firm and reject every bid that comes in for Lukaku this summer, just as they did during Chelsea’s pursuit of John Stones. However, this time it’s different. Nobody can begrudge Lukaku a transfer. It’s our own doing he is itching to switch clubs.
Players have left Goodison before but this one will be hard to take. We had the potential to achieve with Lukaku but we have not fulfilled it. We haven’t come close and he has now lost faith.
Even an early Moshiri spending spree will do little to convince Lukaku that Everton and Martinez are capable of helping him in his quest for medals.
Many Blues mow appear resigned to losing the best striker to play for Everton in the Premier League era. What a shame and what a waste for the club to miss out on such a talent.
One can hope he scores at Wembley if we reach the FA Cup final – a victory come May could have been the start of many trophy-laden years for Lukaku in the royal blue shirt. Instead, any goal in the showpiece fixture will likely be a parting gift.
When Lukaku inevitably moves on and beams for the photographers as he holds the shirt of a European powerhouse at his grand unveiling, it will hurt.
When he likely goes on to top score in the Champions League for one of the continent’s best sides, it will frustrate us.
And when he becomes the most lethal striker in world football, Evertonians will be left wondering what could have been.
Lukaku is ours for now, though there is little chance he will be much longer. Should the striker leave, Everton and Roberto Martinez only have themselves to blame.