As expected, Everton manager Ronald Koeman was besieged with questions about the future of star striker Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian forward has been linked this week with a move away from the club, and then quickly followed up with his agent saying that he would be signing a new contract with the Toffees.
On the topic of how close Lukaku is to signing a new contract -
“I don't know. I didn't speak to the Board about Romelu. If his agent mentioned he likes to stay, that he is close or will sign a new deal, that is perfect for Everton.
“If players really see a future at the club, that the team is improving, that the team is getting stronger every day, that is always a plus for players to to stay.
“Everybody has their own ambition, that is normal, he is a human being. We like to keep the good players, and he is one of them. He is the top scorer in the league.
“He is really playing at a high level, very clinical. it will be difficult to find a replacement for him. For that, I hope he will stay.”
What can Everton do to keep Lukaku -
“First of all it starts with yourself. He really is a world class finisher. But in other details and qualities he must improve, and he knows that.
“If the club is improving and showing ambition its always a good way to stay for the players. That’s what we need to show him, to convince him of the short term future for Everton.”
Has Koeman had a conversation directly with Lukaku about his future?
“Two conversations. One was at the beginning of the season when he came back after the Euros. You need to explain to players (about the vision).
“Second was you need to show it. At the moment it's looking really good and it gives the players confidence to stay.”
On the topic of being top scorer providing motivation in the Premier League -
“Its a personal ambition that's good, but it starts with the team. If you work hard for the team, the team will do everything for the striker, its a combination.
“We are improving the support for him, to create the chances for him to score, and it was perfect last weekend.”
Has Koeman gotten the impression that Lukaku is bigger than the club?
“From day one working with Romelu, he is a perfect professional. He likes to improve, he likes to train hard. He likes to do everything really, is really involved with the team.
“The club Everton is more important than the manager, it’s more important than the players. It’s all about the team.
“If the team is doing well, if the team is happy, if the team is working hard, normally he will score the goals.
“It starts always with the team, the team makes Romelu the top scorer. Of course you need the striker to have the finishing quality, but you can’t do it by yourself.”
How will Koeman ensure Lukaku’s head doesn’t get turned between now and the end of the season?
“It's always the communication with the players. If there's something wrong, then I’m the manager to talk to the players and to change things.
“If the player like what he needs to do and there is no problem.
“I am no different now than I was in the beginning, I will be no different at the end of the season than I am now. That is how we like to work.”