Everton have been on the cusp of cracking the top four door open for years. This season, they look the best they have since they did finish fourth, back in 2005. Youth, energy and experience, Ronald Koeman has been building a well-blended team which on many occasions has shown its promise to reach the next level. Yet, they may have hit a stumbling block after news of Romelu Lukaku refusing to sign a new contract.
This makes him one of the biggest summer transfer targets already. Everton should brace for plenty of offers for one of the most promising forwards in European football. 19 goals in 25 Premier League starts, he’s proven to be prolific in England and represents not just a future investment but a man ready to hit the ground running now. Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United are three sides that spring to mind that could attract the Belgian and who need another striker.
Lukaku’s main reason for leaving seems to be the opportunity to play Champions League football. Chelsea, Manchester City and Spurs are up among those places but I believe Chelsea won’t look to bring him back, City have bought Gabriel Jesus and would also need to sell Sergio Aguero whilst Spurs may be out-priced.
United are in a position where they don’t know if they’ll be able to tie down Zlatan Ibrahimovic, or whether they want to. Wayne Rooney’s future is also up in the air, so it would make sense for Ed Woodward and co. to keep an eye on the Everton want-away. Affordability is not an issue; their manager might be though. Jose Mourinho was in charge at Stamford Bridge when they sold Lukaku to the Toffees. If the Red Devils boss has been swayed by the striker’s form in Merseyside, he could be a perfect fit in the red of Manchester. Pace, power and the finish, with the supply of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba and Juan Mata, he could score for fun at Old Trafford. It poses questions about Rooney and the game-time of Marcus Rashford and Antony Martial, but there’s no doubting he’d be a good signing.
That move is more realistic than swapping Merseyside colours, yet Liverpool have the money, Jurgen Klopp and Champions League is still on the cards. The style of football is enough to convince most players to Anfield, as Klopp has turned the Reds into one of the most exciting attacking sides in English football. The fees for Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum display the money behind the club, it’s about persuading Everton’s star man to swap sides of the Mersey with a game of hard-ball inevitable. Another player who could play a part in a move is Daniel Sturridge, if Liverpool really want to cut ties with their man and move for Lukaku, is the possibility of a swap reasonable?
As for Arsenal, price is always a question. Are the Gunners willing to go big for a striker which could finally take them from title pretenders to Premier League contenders? The manager position needs finalising first, although whoever is at the helm come the summer window, will know Lukaku is good enough to make an impact in North London. Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are in doubt as to where their future lies, so swooping in for Lukaku will not only improve them but provide incetive for two world-class talents to stay put and make a push for the title that’s eluded them for so long. With a better striker to feed and the prospect of a new manager with fresh ideas to bring, it could be the signing Arsenal need as a catalyst to make their title aspirations a reality.