Can Romelu Lukaku fire Everton into the top four?
After a successful loan spell at Everton last season, the toffees have decided to absolutely blitz their club record transfer (previously the £16m paid for Marouane Fellaini) with the £28m permanent signing of Romelu Lukaku. Lukaku scored 16 goals at the club last season and such a fee demands that, at bare minimum, he matches last season’s goal return.
As an Everton fan myself and going to watch the games I often found myself criticising Lukaku last season, stating that he goes missing in the big games, his touch isn’t good enough and even thought Wilfried Bony should be the man Everton buy to fire them into the Champions League. However, Bony has only had one season in the Premier League and his return was only marginally better than Lukaku’s. Throughout the close season I found myself hoping more and more that Lukaku would sign for Everton due to various reasons, the main one being his goal return at such a young age. His 65 League goals by the age of 21 is a record only matched by Sergio Aguero, blitzing Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar’s records by the same age.
In order to get the most out of Romelu Lukaku, Everton will need to play to his strengths. Lukaku is very much a penalty box striker, in fact all of his Everton goals have come from within the box. With the vast array of talent down Everton’s flanks, and the creativity of Barkley in behind him, Everton have the perfect set up to build this team around Lukaku’s strengths. When facing goal, Lukaku is absolutely terrifying. He can us his pace and power to run at defenders, causing havoc. His one touch finishing is fantastic, and he possesses a great leap to help him win in the air.
The problems with Lukaku come when he’s found with his back to goal. His touch needs improvement, often the ball bounces off him and gifts possession back to the opposition, something Martinez will be keen to stamp out of him. However, the biggest aspect that needs improvement to suit Everton’s style is his passing. Lukaku often misplaces simple passes, causing attacks to break down. Everton, playing their possession style of football can not afford their lone striker to be giving the ball away on a regular basis. Lukaku has to learn to hold the ball up and bring Everton’s attacking midfielders into play in order to help them achieve their Champions League ambitions.
Romelu Lukaku, though a proven goalscorer is still only 21. Whether he can be the catalyst to fire Everton in to the top 4 is debatable, however, he will only improve. If Everton can manage to keep hold of Lukaku on top of other key young players (Barkley, McCarthy) then with the right backing and tactical nous from Roberto Martinez the club has every chance of gate-crashing the top 4 in the next few years. Can they do it this season? It will be tough and personally I think a 6th place finish and Europa League would represent another good season for the club.
Do you think Lukaku can handle the pressure attached to his club-record transfer fee? Can he fire Everton to a top four finish? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @TBRFootball.