Should Everton leave it late to sign Romelu Lukaku?

Clive Brunskill

Roberto Martinez is prepared to play the waiting game in order to buy the striker - but is it worth the risk?

It is widely believed that Everton, now on a slightly firmer financial footing due to the new TV deal, will have some cash to spend this summer.

Much of that is likely to go on a central striker, with this season's loan star Romelu Lukaku one of those high on Martinez's shortlist.

His parent club Chelsea, though, will want at least £20million for the 20-year-old who cost them £18million three years ago.

Evertonians appear divided as to whether Lukaku is worth the investment with some pointing out he has shown signs of inconsistency since the turn of the year. Other meanwhile believe that at 20 and with 15 goals to his credit this season, he is a solid investment for the future who will only get better and retain a high sell-on value.

Martinez openly admits he wants to sign Lukaku permanently and it appears the Belgian would also entertain the possibility of joining full time.

However, the Everton boss says he is ready to wait until late in the summer to make his move for Lukaku, certainly after the World Cup.

That is a risky strategy given Chelsea may want his future sorted well before then. The Londoners are keen to raise cash this summer by selling off a number of squad players and are unlikely to wait around for Everton given there will be plenty of clubs willing to part with cash to take Lukaku off their hands.

There is also the risk his value could swell still further should he have a successful World Cup with Belgium, where he is expected to lead the line in the absence of the injured Christian Benteke.

Everton are likely to be priced out any bidding war in excess of £22-23million, leaving them short of striking options with only a few weeks of the transfer window left.

Despite that risk, Martinez appears unconcerned and it pays to remember that Everton's best transfer business last summer was done on the final day, when Gareth Barry, James McCarthy and Lukaku all joined.

Martinez was quoted in the Liverpool Echo as saying:

"The parent club, Chelsea, are delighted with his progress and the player has developed an incredible relationship with our fans. His memories will never evaporate, but we will see what’s next.

"We’ll see what’s the best thing for everyone. But everything will be in stages: how Chelsea are doing in their own squad and how that frees some players. It’s going to take a bit of time and I don’t think Romelu’s situation is going to be resolved before the World Cup, in truth.

"I think it will be after the World Cup.

"We hope he has a really, really good World Cup . . . and then decides to come to us."

Martinez will obviously have some other options should the deal not go through but it looks like Evertonians will have to wait a while before a big money striker arrives.

Despite that I still expect transfer activity to begin quite quickly as the need to bolster the squad is urgent now European qualification is assured.

But when it comes to Lukaku, is Martinez playing a risky game of stick or twist? With the possibility of going into the final days of the transfer window without a big name striker a very real one?

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