Romelu Lukaku might want to get used to remaining in Everton blue.
The Belgian striker’s future has been the cause for much debate in recent seasons and the player himself stoked the fire recently. As reported by The Guardian, Lukaku stated in an interview on Belgian TV that he will not be signing the new contract handed to him by his employers. The Everton talisman is in the midst of another fine season for the Toffees, with a league-leading 23 goals in the Premier League.
Lukaku has often made it known that his interest is to play at the highest levels. He’s done so internationally with Belgium but feels the opportunities have passed him by at the club level.
The 23-year-old has been in England for six years now, having signed with Chelsea back in 2011. His eventual departure, while Jose Mourinho was in charge, was baffling considering his impressive performances on loan.
Lukaku’s move to Everton was certainly a step down for the Belgian star but not a huge step back considering the club’s history and status just outside the elite in the Premier League. The former Anderlecht man has definitely benefited from the move though, as he’s proven himself to be one of the top forwards in the league.
While his ambition and talent has surely attracted the attention of the elite it’s not as if he’s completely outgrown Everton.
Lukaku’s mixture of physicality, pace and clinical finishing make him a solid player but he is not the finished article. He can go missing at times, as he did in the recent Merseyside derby against Liverpool, and he doesn’t have the work-rate that has become the norm for modern forwards. Add in a somewhat dubious touch and poor link-up play at times and it’s evident there’s still work to be done. He is still only 23.
The player and his agent may have heard the rumblings in the rumour mill of a possible striker merry-go-round in the summer and decided to add his name to the pot a la Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. He may be overestimating his options and the interest in his services though.
Considering his progression at Everton, Lukaku will surely want to be a key member of whatever side he may go to next. The options where that are concerned range from non-existent to severely limited with our without a musical chair for forwards.
In England, the best looks to be Chelsea, should Diego Costa leave.
Antonio Conte has already stopped the Spanish international leaving once though, and will likely prefer his compatriot, Andrea Belotti, and the work-rate he brings to the table. Elsewhere in London, there is Tottenham with Harry Kane and an Arsenal team that lacks ambition.
Further north, Liverpool are, obviously, out of the question and neither Manchester club looks like a good option. If Pep Guardiola doubts Sergio Aguero then he most certainly will find fault with Lukaku plus he already has Gabriel Jesus on hand.
At United, Lukaku may look at Mourinho’s 180 with Juan Mata for a glimmer of hope but Zlatan Ibrahimovic is likely to stay for another year and Mourinho himself may not be interested in signing a player he harbors doubts about.
Things don’t get better when top teams elsewhere are considered.
The Serie A would be a step down before considering that the likes of Juventus, Napoli and Roma all have solid options up front. The Milan giants are still rebuilding and neither of those teams are in strong position when it comes to playing in the Champions League next season.
Neither Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund present good options in the Bundesliga. Bayern have no need for him with Lewandowski in fine form, while Dortmund, with or without Pierre-Emerick Aubamayeng in the way, are a project that will take another season or two to fully come together.
Spain is even less promising as one cannot see Lukaku working well under the intensity of Diego Simeone or Jorge Sampaoli at Atletico Madrid and Sevilla. He certainly isn’t needed, nor would he fit, at Barcelona and Real Madrid have Alvaro Morata and other fish to catch such as Eden Hazard. Meanwhile, Paris Saint-Germain have only recently entered the Edison Cavani era in Ligue 1.
There will undoubtedly be eyes wandering in Lukaku’s direction this summer both domestically and abroad. Whether the clubs mentioned above will convince themselves to commit to what will surely be a significant fee to upset their apple cart remains to be seen. Lukaku himself will have lots of questions to consider.
Will he want to move to a lesser league? Will he move to a team that aren’t in the elite, yet play Champions League just because they are in the Champions League? Would he move to a side that is only guaranteed a play-off spot? In some cases, Lukaku would just be making a sideways with the possible bonus of yearly Champions League play.
While Everton’s best bet right now is entry into the Europa League next season they could be better placed than most to be in the Champions League in the future. Win the Europa League next season and they are there in 2018/19. Alternatively, Ronald Koeman, with the backing of the new ownership, could continue Everton’s progression and have them challenge for the top four next season.
Everton haven’t necessarily lacked ambition so much as they haven’t found a way to break through the brick wall of the big six. That time may be coming. Lukaku’s best bet to play at the highest levels won’t be to clamor for a move away. It will be to lead Everton there.
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After shock international call is Antonee Robinson a future Everton star
The defender has been in good form for Bolton Wanderers this season.
Bolton Wanderers have recently seen one of their players called up to international duty for the first time. Antonee Robinson has been included in the senior USA squad for the upcoming fixture against Paraguay
The left-back was born in Milton Keynes but his father is from New York state so qualifies for the USMNT. Robinson has previously played for the USA under-18 side and received a call-up to the under-20s but this is his first senior call.
For Everton fans, it will be a sign of the excellent work he has been putting in with the Championship strugglers. Robinson is on a season long loan at the Macron Stadium from Everton.
The 20-year-old has been a revelation for the Trotters, performing brilliantly and featuring in 26 league games this campaign. Despite recently losing his place to the more experienced Andrew Taylor it has been an excellent campaign for Robinson.
Everton must be keeping track of his development, especially considering that left-back is a position that they need to improve.
This season has seen Cuco Martina play out of position to fill the role. Leighton Baines is still an excellent operator, as he is shown since his return from injury. The issue however is that Baines seems to be picking up injuries on far to regular a basis for Everton’s liking.
Robinson therefore could be the answer on the long-term. There has been talk of Everton diving into the transfer market to fill the role but in the 20-year-old the Toffees have a potential long-term replacement.
Everton have a long history of bringing through young talent and at the moment have a queue of youngsters knocking at the first-team door.
One of those players is Robinson. Considering the problem area that is left-back, it should not be ruled out that Robinson is a potential solution to Everton’s positional trouble.
Sam Allardyce deserves credit for Cenk Tosun treatment
The Turkish international has four goals in his last three games.
Everton can now start building for next season, with the win v Stoke City this weekend. Despite their early season woes, Everton have survived, with the 2-1 win against the Potters Everton have moved to the traditionally safe 40 point mark. One man who is also finally finding his feet at Everton is Turkish striker Cenk Tosun. He scored both of Everton’s goals in the important win.
Signed from Besiktas in January the Turkish international was sidelined by Sam Allardyce early on at Goodison Park. Tosun, who according to Sky Sports cost £27 million, was often named among the substitutes with Oumar Niasse preferred up front. Allardyce explained he was easing Tosun into life in the Premier League, much to the annoyance of some Everton fans.
However, it appears to have worked. Speaking after the game yesterday Allardyce had this to say about his striker:
“The confidence he has gained now from us taking him out early doors [has helped], when everyone was saying ‘you’re not playing him’ – you know, the usual rubbish you get from outside the football club. But, of course, they don’t know. I do, they don’t. We wanted to get him fitter and more used to the players he was playing with.”
It has to be said, Allardyce might be right. Tosun has been brilliant in recent weeks. Adding to his two goals against Stoke the 26-year-old has scored in the recent defeat v Burnley and win against Brighton. Tosun, who scored eight times in 16 league games for Besiktas this season, is finally finding his feet.
Allardyce’s plan all along was to ensure Tosun did not have a struggle early on. If Tosun had been thrown into the first-team, which was playing poorly, with immediate effect it could have been detrimental.
One game without a goal becomes two, then three, then four and so on. Instead Everton ensured that Tosun was comfortable in the team set-up and fit for Premier League action.
Now they are reaping the benefits with Tosun in fine goalscoring form.
If he can keep up his current form it will not be a surprise if he manages to find his way to double figures for Everton this season. That would be a phenomenal feat and one which would certainly validate Big Sam’s often criticised decision.
Everton have found their Romelu Lukaku successor in Cenk Tosun
The Turkish international has now scored four goals in his last three matches.
Cenk Tosun arrived at Everton with a big reputation after performing well for Besiktas in the Champions League.
The striker scored four times and contributed two assists during the group stages of the competition. It was hoped that he could be the player to fill the Romelu Lukaku shaped hole at Goodison Park after he joined for £27 million.
The 26-year-old didn’t make an immediate impact in England, failing to score in his first four matches and found himself out of the starting eleven for a period.
Sam Allardyce remained committed to his big money signing in public, but said that he would remain on the bench until Everton were safe, as shown by this quote reported by the Liverpool Echo:
“He is struggling with the pace of the Premier League which happens to more players than it doesn’t to who come in in January,”
“There are more that struggle than actually succeed. As time goes on and the more we get closer to our safety the more we can release and see what he’s got.”
The manager was true to his word and as the club has moved closer to survival, he has given more minutes to his big-money striker.
It seemed fitting that it was Tosun that scored the goals to take the club to 40-points with a victory over Stoke City on Saturday. There was never any real threat of the Toffees getting relegated, but it will be a relief now they have got to that points mark.
Everton had a one-man advantage for the majority of the match against Stoke City after a first-half red card was given to Charlie Adam. Even after the dismissal, it was a hard-fought game and the visitors didn’t have it all their own way. They didn’t get their first goal until the second-half and it came as a result of a goalmouth scramble.
Tosun showed good anticipation and composure to give his side a lead. His first effort was saved and another shot came in from a team-mate before it fell at his feet to finish the move. It wasn’t the most beautiful goal, but it will be a pleasing one for the striker as he was in the right place at the right time.
It was his second that was a more technical goal as he diverted a diving header past Jack Butland to secure the three points for Everton. He wouldn’t have had the confidence to score it earlier in his Everton career, but it is clear that he is finding himself at Goodison Park and is now offering the threat that he did in Turkey.
The Turkish international has now scored four goals in his last three matches and he is ready to finish the season with a flourish.
Although Everton now have little to play for, it is important that Tosun does adjust to English football ahead of next season. If he didn’t, it would leave the club with a problem over the summer as they would need to decide whether to stick or twist with their striker.
Now, that doesn’t seem like it will be an issue. Everton supporters shouldn’t get too excited, but Tosun has shown during the last few weeks that he has the ability to be Romelu Lukaku’s replacement at the club. He has good awareness in the final third and a goal-scorer’s instinct that could see him score 15 or more Premier League goals every season.
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