Romelu Lukaku has sparked what may well become the biggest transfer scramble of the summer after it was revealed that the Everton striker had turned down the most lucrative contract offer in the club’s history.
The Belgium striker has made it clear that he has no interest in signing a new deal at Goodison Park and the news will come as a crushing blow to Ronald Koeman and supporters who were hoping to see the 23-year-old spearhead their challenge for European football next season. However, it appears that Lukaku has his heart set on departing Merseyside in the near future and it is thought that the decision is based on his desire to play in the Europe’s elite competition, the Champions League.
The developments during the week will have come as something of a shock to Everton who are understood to have offered the player a new long-term contract worth in excess of £100,000 per week. To add to the disappointment, Lukaku’s agent, Mino Raiola, has previously insisted that the striker would accept a lucrative deal and claimed that the “99.9%” of negotiations had been agreed between all parties. Despite his agent’s public statements, the 23-year-old informed the club of his decision to reject further talks on Tuesday and it now looks like he will depart Goodison Park in the summer having turned down the opportunity to become the highest paid player in Everton history.
Why has the striker rejected Everton’s new contract?
Romelu Lukaku’s decision to turn down a new contract is thought to be based predominantly on the 23-year-old’s desire and ambition to play in the Champions League.
The striker has continuously proven that he is one of the leading strikers in European football and has already racked up 20 goals for Everton so far this season. His power, pace, physical strength and clinical nature in front of goal make him a dangerous prospect in and around the eighteen yard box and, despite still being in his early twenties, he has netted over 100 goals at club and international level.
He has been a big hit at Goodison Park since arriving on loan in the summer of 2013, prior to making a £30,000,000 move from Chelsea at the end of the 2013/14 season. The striker is Everton’s all-time leading goal scorer in the Premier League, having netted 62 times for The Toffees, and has been involved in 51% of the club’s successful strikes so far this campaign. His departure will come as a major blow to Ronald Koeman as he attempts to build a team that can genuinely challenge for European football.
Despite his success in the blue half of Merseyside, Lukaku appears destined to depart in the near future. The 23-year-old is clearly not motivated by money, as demonstrated by turning down a club-record contract offer, but it seems increasingly unlikely that Everton are set to challenge for trophies or break into the top four in the Premier League. If the striker is determined to play in Europe’s premier club competition and challenge for domestic honours then it is something that The Toffees simply are unable to provide at this point in time.
Where next for Lukaku?
The news that Romelu Lukaku has rejected the offer of a long-term new contract will undoubtedly spark a transfer scramble amongst the leading club’s in Europe.
It is likely that Everton will look to make a significant profit on the £30,000,000 they paid Chelsea in the summer of 2014 for the striker’s services and early estimates suggest that they could ask for in excess of £60,000,000. Lukaku’s current contract still has two years to run so The Toffees will have time on their side as they look to maximise any potential income from the sale of the 23-year-old.
So, where next for the Belgian goal machine?
Chelsea made in inquiry about re-signing the Belgian in the summer and Antonio Conte could revive his interest at the end of the season. The former Italy and Juventus manager has transformed the club’s fortunes since his arrival and looks set to secure a Premier League and FA Cup double in his first season in English football. However, Diego Costa is clearly The Blues’ number one striker and it is unlikely that Lukaku will be content with playing second fiddle to the controversial Spaniard.
Manchester United are also thought to be monitoring the 23-year-old and Jose Mourinho could be in need of a new striker should Zlatan Ibrahimovic decide to depart Old Trafford at the end of the season. The charismatic Swede has been a remarkably success this campaign but has yet to sign a new contract with his current deal set to expire in May. Lukaku and Manchester United could be a good fit, but as things stand Mourinho’s side could be set to miss out on Champions League qualification.
A move to the continent could also interest the young Belgian. There are a host of leading European clubs that will be looking to add to their striking department, although it is debateable as to how many of these sides would be able to meet Everton’s excessive asking price.
What now for Everton?
Like many top-half Premier League clubs that are stuck on the periphery of the Champions League, it looks like Everton will have to see one of their key players to one of the teams that they are attempting to overtake. However, a £60,000,000 boost to their transfer kitty, if spent efficiently by Ronald Koeman, could be the spark and investment that the club needs in order to create a team capable of qualifying for European football next season.
The Toffees have made no official comment on Romelu Lukaku’s decision to turn down a new contract and there is still a slim chance that the striker might still pledge his long-term future at Goodison. The club are willing to negotiate with the 23-year-old and there is still a deal on the table should the striker chose to complete a U-turn.
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