You know by now about the Romelu Lukaku contract saga. Will he stay? Will he go? Who would replace him if he leaves? The transfer rumor mill is in high gear, and we here at Royal Blue Mersey put our heads together to determine who we think Everton should sign if the big Belgian does depart.
Sean: Realistically Moussa Dembele would be one solution. He's shown he has quality, despite playing in Scotland, and is young enough that there is plenty of development left in him. Let's not forget he's a player Everton have looked at before now as well. His price would likely be high but he could be a smart investment, although, admittedly, he wouldn't be a direct replacement for Romelu Lukaku.
Darren: Javier Hernandez. Proven goalscorer at the highest level. Not quite the same player as Lukaku but very much in the same number if goals bracket.
Adam: Bas Dost of Sporting CP in Portugal (formerly of Wolfsburg). If you're looking for a player who is going to match Lukaku's full skill set and wants to come to Everton, you're going to be disappointed. Instead, I look for a player who can replace the size and strength Lukaku brings, given that we have the speed and explosiveness of Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin already.
In that category, you won't do any better than Dost, who's 6'5" and has scored 22 goals in 22 matches with Sporting this season, eight of which have come with his head. The Dutch striker scored 36 goals in 85 appearances (only 69 of which were starts) with Wolfsburg of the Bundesliga, so he's got a history of scoring relatively regularly in a better league as well. He wouldn't be a full-time replacement, but he could be part of a solution that likely includes Everton's young, developing strikeforce.
Matt: Would love to see someone like Alexandre Lacazette or Mauro Icardi. Both are obviously different types of players, but both are proven goal scorers is top European leagues. Signings like this would show that the team isn't messing around and wants to win now. Also, both are still young and could be great pieces for the team for years.
Chris: There are multiple schools of thought for how a club can replace their best player when he leaves on an enormous transfer fee. You can, of course, take the route that Tottenham Hotspur did with replacing Gareth Bale, and bring in a small army of players to replace your star’s contributions up and down the roster. Or, you can try to replace the player one for one, however, as Mike mentions below, that solution is bordering on impossible, particularly in Lukaku’s case.
The reality is that the most profitable solution is likely somewhere in the middle. Given that, Everton should go after Andrea Belotti of Torino. Just 23, the Italian striker has scored an absurd 22 goals (to go along with 4 assists) in 28 Serie A appearances this season. Valued at around €20 million, Belotti would be able to come in and lead the line immediately while still unlocking more of his potential under the steady hand of Ronald Koeman.
Mike: It might be obvious, but I think the first thing is to understand that you will not be able to buy another player with Lukaku's combination of age, potential, talent, output etc. without shelling out an unbelievable amount of money.
So you can either buy someone who can score goals and plug the gap short term but costs less because they are older, or you buy someone less proven but with upside. Or maybe you do both. Chicharito or Lucas Pérez could be good options for the first category, and I like a guy like Montpellier's Steve Mounie for the latter option. He's 22, takes a ton of shots inside the box, and has been scoring. He seems to have nothing like the creativity that Lukaku does though.
And then go buy Wilfried Bony for peanuts, for some reason I still think that dude can play.
Tyler: Am I showing my American bias too much if I say that Hamburg's Bobby Wood could be a good fit at Everton? He's 24 years old and playing in a top European league. His speed, strength and creativity would fit perfectly in the Premier League. And he has proven he can score (nine times in 24 games) for a rather bad team.
You would have to think he gets better service at Everton, especially since we expect Koeman to go out and get a decent winger or two this summer, meaning his goal-scoring record should only improve. And I doubt Wood would cost too much, which would allow Everton to go out and get an additional striker; someone older with a proven England track record, like Jermain Defoe to reinforce the attack and provide depth for Europe.
What do you think, Blues? Do any of these names strike your fancy, or is there another forward plying their trade around Europe you’d like to see in the royal blue?