Lukaku claims Everton’s lack of ambition is why he wants to leave
Romelu Lukaku laid bare his reasons for wanting to leave Everton this summer, citing the club’s lack of ambition as the defining factor.
The Belgium international stunned Everton’s hierarchy on Tuesday when he told them he would not commit to a new deal. The club had put together the biggest financial package in their history and were prepared to pay him in excess of £130,000 a week.
Talks had been ongoing since last summer and it appeared Lukaku would commit his future, only for the 23-year-old to perform a U-turn. Everton have not given up hope of changing his mind, but he does not want to be seen as duplicitous.
This has not come down to him asking for more money or a dispute between Everton and Mino Raiola, his agent. But with two years left on his deal, he doesn’t want to commit to a longer stay on Merseyside if Everton can’t reach the heights Lukaku craves.
In a remarkable interview, Lukaku’s frustration at not playing for a club that is competing in the Champions League bubbled over and he made it very clear he wants to be on a stage where he can fulfil his goals.
‘Everton as a club have a great history, right?’ Lukaku said. ‘But the future has to be written. You get me? We always talk about the teams of the 1980s and, if you look, it was great. But we, as players, want the fans talking about us instead of us talking about them. No disrespect but you know what I mean?
‘You cannot only be remembered by scoring goals. You want to be remembered by winning trophies. That is what the fans want. So instead of living in the past, you have to think ahead.
‘How this club has to grow, how this club has to improve. Which player does it want to bring in so you can challenge for the big trophies?
‘Sometimes I speak to Vincent Kompany, who was at Manchester City when it all happened. He said, “Rom, one summer I just came in and boom, boom, boom… Robinho from there, this guy came in, this guy came in”.
‘Everyone was criticising them but, at the end, there are two league titles, FA Cup here, League Cups there. That is what we want as players.’
Everton have tried to make big statements in the transfer market since Farhad Moshiri became the club’s majority shareholder last February, but not all have come off.
‘Stuff is happening,’ said Lukaku. ‘But there were some players we could have got, that I knew the club could have got and they didn’t. And they are playing in this league. I’m not saying names but they are doing well.’
Lukaku clicks his fingers as he talks, stressing his desire for change. Everton want that too and it is unfair to say they lack ambition, given they spent heavily in January and have a vision to relocate to a new stadium, with a site at Bramley-Moore Dock on Liverpool’s waterfront the preferred option.
But it is the following quick-fire exchange that shows where Lukaku sees himself and why he will look to move this summer, with Chelsea and Manchester United on red alert. He is sitting in the library at Everton’s Finch Farm training base, after watching a coaching session with Everton in the Community’s girls pan-disability team and he champions the work of the Community team. Soon, though, the tone changes.
He is the favourite to win the Premier League’s Golden Boot and Lukaku is asked whether the achievement will be diminished with his rival, Harry Kane, not playing.
‘I’m sad he is injured,’ Lukaku began. ‘Everyone wants to see top players in the league and it’s sad for Tottenham and him. I hope he gets better and becomes stronger than he is now. He is a good player.’
Is he a player that he looks to learn from? The response is as unexpected as it is ruthless. ‘I don’t look at other players if they aren’t going to teach me anything,’ came the reply. ‘If I have the feeling you aren’t going to teach me something, why should I look at you? That’s the thing I have. I’m focused on Everton and what I am doing.’
Which players does he look at then? ‘Suarez, Lewandowski, Benzema, Cavani,’ he said, firing the names out. ‘I’m not looking at the rest. No chance. I watch what they do in certain moments and I think “that’s interesting”. How close am I to them? I’m close. I’m one of the best strikers in the Premier League, 100 per cent.
‘If I don’t say I am one of the best, I’m shooting myself in the head. Can I be one of the best in the world? Definitely. But to do that, you need the platform to show yourself. Then you are talking about Champions League and whatever types of games.’
Lukaku wanted to join a Champions League club last summer but Everton placed a £65million price tag on him. No official bid was received and Lukaku was persuaded to stay by manager Ronald Koeman.
Everton do not have to sell Lukaku, who has scored 81 goals in 156 appearances. His value will have increased, even though he only has two years of his current deal remaining.
But for the time being, he is not going to let the situation unsettle him.
‘I’m not scared of anything,’ he said. ‘I’m just playing football and trying to do whatever I can to help Everton become a better club. Like every team-mate. We want the best for the club because we have great facilities, good fans. An example like Everton in the Community who work hard. You have a good bunch of lads.
‘But at the end of the day fans want to see trophies. Players want trophies so we need to try more, give a bit more. You should not shy away from it.
‘If you don’t win a trophy, something has gone wrong because if you have the belief that you can do something, you can do it. If you have the belief, you work and focus, then you can get it. Nothing is going to stop you. That’s how I think.’
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