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Everton's hopes of Lukaku deal fading

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Romelu Lukaku has once again spoke of his desire to play in the Champions League next season, so with Everton's top four hopes fading, is it time for a striking contingency plan?

Jan Kruger

Lukaku is currently back home in his native Belgium as he recovers from an ankle injury picked up during the Merseyside derby last month.

While back home the striker has spoken to the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws about his future ambitions, stressing his desire to play in Europe's premier competition sooner rather than later.

"It's time for me to play Champions League, and that's what I want.

"When I turn 21, I'll have been a professional for five years, I need this in my evolution.

"Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney were already in the Champions League when they were 23 or 24.

"I don't want to play my first games in the Champions League when I'm 23, I want it now. I have to show now that I'm ready.

"I still have two years on my contract in Chelsea and I know they're tracking my evolution. In the end, it's up to the manager to decide.

Those quotes are definitely a dig at Chelsea and a warning that he wants to be a regular next season or he will leave.

They are also a hammer blow to Everton's hopes of signing the striker, given their Champions League hopes are fading rapidly.

Lukaku has made the equation clear: If Everton fail to finish fourth they can kiss goodbye any hope of signing him in the summer.

Not that I resent Lukaku in any way, he is a fiercely ambitious young footballer and has always been open about his desire to reach the top of the game as quickly as possible.

It would have been nice to think he would stick around for another year, but if I was in his shoes I would probably be doing the same.

The good news for Everton is that Lukaku is in control of his own destiny. Once he recovers from injury he knows he could score the goals that fire the Blues into the top four, safe in the knowledge he will be invited along for the ride next season.

That, though, would require a five point swing on Liverpool, six if you consider their vastly superior goal difference, while Tottenham's win on Sunday has put them right in contention as well.

To that end Everton need to assess other striking options and fast. Roberto Martinez has confirmed he has funds to spend in the summer so the opportunity is there, but who is available?

Have your say in the comments section below - anyone who says Vellios will be sent outside to think about what they've just done.