Striker Romelu Lukaku has been talking up his exit from Everton for some time now, usually using the international breaks as his time to speak of his greater ambitions. Having frustrated Everton fans time and again with his comments, he finally said that he would not be signing a new contract that would make him the Blues highest-paid player.
The Toffees were under no compulsion to do so with the player still having two years on his current deal, but the gesture of goodwill went unacknowledged by the player and his coterie, including super-agent Mino Raiola who continued to pursue a big money move for the player.
Aside from Chelsea where he came from, Manchester United and Bayern Munich were the only other clubs linked that would match his ‘requirements’ of competing for trophies and playing in the Champions League.
In recent weeks, chatter about United and Bayern has fallen away leaving Chelsea as the only contenders. However, internal discord at Stamford Bridge seems to have quietened down any Lukaku talk, despite the player saying early last week that he had already made his decision where he wanted to go.
The Chelsea interest is apparently because the London club are balking at what Everton are asking for Lukaku, reportedly anywhere between £60-90 million. Which then raises an interesting question - can Everton end up holding on to Lukaku by stubbornly refusing to reduce their transfer demands for the player, despite his camp wanting to engineer a transfer?
A long, drawn out and protracted battle does no one any good - Everton face a tough opening to the season and need to get their squad settled and playing well as soon as possible. Also, having a disgruntled player on the team is not good for morale, especially if used as an unconventional way to get him to stay.
There remains the remote chance that Everton’s big spending early in the transfer window shows Lukaku that the club are indeed capable of matching his lofty ambitions, but it does seem that this ‘new’ Everton is coming into its own a year too late.