The overwhelming opinion by transfer pundits is that Romelu Lukaku is worth about £20 - £25 million. Chelsea bought Lukaku for about £10 million with add-ons making it a possible £17. Given that he has definitely lived up to goal scoring expectations (by scoring a goal every two matches) you can say that £22 million is a fair value for a striker that is still only 20 years old. He has proven he can consistently be successful in the Premier League.
But why should Everton not buy him then?
The answer is Everton are not Manchester United. Everton are not Chelsea. Everton are not even Tottenham. The reality is that we are a cash strapped club. We cannot afford to throw huge sums of money at players, especially in risky positions like striker (where players' value can plummet after one mediocre season). We just don't have that luxury. Does that mean Everton can never make it to the Champions League or win the title? No. We just have to be smarter with are money than other teams.
Atletico Madrid did it and they may win La Liga this year. Yes, they did spend an exorbitant amount on Radamel Falcao from Porto (which they ended up making quite a healthy profit when they sold him). I doubt anyone would compare Lukaku to Falcao. When they did sell Falcao, they didn't go on a huge spending spree afterwards, instead buying David Villa for £5.1 million to complement Diego Costa.
But even Atletico isn't the greatest example because they have gone on ridiculous spending sprees before. Everton can't go all in for players in hopes of Champions League and then be irrelevant for decades. We need to build a young squad with a good academy. It worked with players like Seamus Coleman and John Stones. We should continue that instead of trying to match the extremely wealthy clubs. Clubs like Porto and Olympique Lyonnais should be what Everton strive to be, not PSG, Manchester City and Real Madrid.
Here are some potential youngsters Everton could go for without breaking the bank:
Centre Forwards (source: Transfermrkt)
- Josip Drmic (1. FC Nuremberg - £8.8 million) - Timo Werner is the second highest rated CF after Lukaku at £10.5 million (that's a whole £11.5 million less than Lukaku). But for our sake, I don't see the 2nd-5th rated strikers as options either because we wouldn't really want them or the club would not sell them. Drmic is a 21 year old Swiss footballer who has scored 16 goals this year in the Bundesliga. Main problem is he signed a 4 year contract just last year.
- Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon - £8.8 million) - I don't see Lyon selling him unless a premium is given, but the 22 year old Lacazette has scored 15 goals this season and is highly rated by a number of clubs. He is on the smaller side so he may have trouble adjusting to the Premier League.
- Pierre-Michel Lasogga (Hertha Berlin on loan to Hamburg - £7.9 million) - Lasogga is tall and has been successful for a couple of years now in the Bundesliga now.
- Michy Batshuayi (Standard Liege - £7 million) - Everton were already linked with Batshuayi (as was Borussia Dortmund) during the winter transfer window but that fell apart. He has scored 18 goals this year and could be a physical presence.
- Alexandar Mitrovic (Anderlecht - £6.6 million) - Mitrovic is only 19 and has already played for the Serbian senior team. He is still very young so could go through some growing pains in the Premier League.
- Luc Castaignos (Twente - £5.3 million) - A little riskier since he has had discipline issues. His stay at Inter was a disaster and he has played well since coming back to the Dutch Eredivisie. We were linked to him when he was leaving Inter but he ultimately went to Twente.
Note: This is mostly speculative, both prices and whether a club will actually sell a player. For example: Gerard Deulofeu is rated at £10.5 million but it is highly unlikely Barcelona would sell him even at a premium. But then again, Everton buying Lukaku is speculation as well. This is just an analysis of possibilities.