Everton's 2015-16 campaign has been a difficult slog for supporters and players alike. The Merseyside outfit has compiled a roster stocked with talent that has failed to live up to expectations. Star striker Romelu Lukaku is one of the elite scorers in the Premier League and seems to only be getting stronger. However, he hinted to Sky Sports that he wants Champions League football next season, which is something that the Toffees cannot offer.
"That is the next step for me," Lukaku said. "I'm 23 next summer and I think it would be nice to play in the Champions League from next season."
Everton do still have a shot at European play for next year. They are one of the final four teams left in the FA Cup, but winning that competition would only result in a spot in the Europa League, a competition where Lukaku dominated, scoring eight goals in nine appearances during the 2014-15 season.
Lukaku's father is piling onto the rumors. The Liverpool Echo is quoting the elder Lukaku saying that Rom could be playing for clubs in Italy, Germany, Spain and England next season.
"He's ready," Lukaku Sr. said. "I see that there is interest from Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Chelsea and Manchester United...I know his agent prefers Italy, but I think he must choose Manchester United or Bayern Munich. Manchester United is a team under construction with no real focus. Bayern is a machine where he can rotate well. The only condition is if Robert Lewandowski leaves."
There is a lot to dissect there, especially when it comes to the two English teams. Neither one is set up for Champions League play in the immediate future and neither squad officially knows who their manager will be a few months from now.
The real hammer of this whole story came from Romelu himself when he was asked if he was leaving Everton this summer.
"Maybe yes. If it can," Lukaku said. "I'm 23. It's time to measure me at the very top. For me, my form at Everton is very good. I can be top scorer of the competition, and so I want to help my team to do better, because at present, our team performance is below par."
There have been rumblings of things like this for a while with Lukaku. His quality is undeniable and the top players want to play in the Champions League against the likes of Messi and Ronaldo, so this could be the beginning of the end of his time with the Toffees. But the Echo's story is coming from a translated interview with the Belgian press. This happens a lot on international breaks and getting lost in translation is a real thing sometimes, so don't completely panic.
Whatever the case may be, Everton will get their money out of this. As was evidence with the John Stones saga last summer, the Toffees are not in the business of giving away top young talent for peanuts. Lukaku came to Everton for a club record fee of £28 million. Given how well he has played during his time with the club and the number of teams that are said to be interested, there should be no problem in doubling that sum. That, coupled with the influx of cash from Farhad Moshiri could lead to a lot of new players in Blue over the summer. However, I hope that Rom give the Toffees one more season to prove their quality.