Is the End Nigh for a Patient Courtship?

Lyndon Lloyd 26/07/2014   Comments  [Jump to last]
As the pieces start falling into place on the transfer front with the imminent unveiling of Muhamed Besic as Everton's newest player, work continues on trying to land Roberto Martinez's top target of the summer, Romelu Lukaku.

The Blues' boss has been quite open about his admiration for the Belgian and his desire to bring him back to Goodison Park on a permanent basis but he has been forced to be patient while the player was involved in the World Cup and then because of his post-Brazil holiday, during which time he will decide his future.

Lukaku is back in Belgium finishing his time off and training at his old club, Anderlecht, in order to keep himself fit but Chelsea expect him to report for pre-season at their training camp in Austria next Thursday.

In the meantime, media speculation continues to swirl in the vaccuum of any hint as to where the 21 year-old will be playing next season. Links with Real Madrid and Juventus appear to have little substance, while Wolfsburg's director of football was forced to publicly deny via Bild today that the Bundesliga club have submitted a 28m bid for Lukaku. That followed a tweet by a little-known journalist based in Montreal which appeared to be source behind more substantial reports in the German media that the striker could be bound for the Volswagen Arena.

Suggestions in the English press that rival domestic suitors like Newcastle United and Tottenham have little chance of tempting Lukaku their way while Atletico Madrid, at one time his most likely destination again, if speculation was to be believed appear to have faded from the picture following their acquisition of Mario Mandzukic.

All of that would appear to leave Lukaku with a choice between staying at Stamford Bridge, where the opportunity of Champions League football exists but where he will have to battle Diego Costa, Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba for regular first-team appearances on the one hands, and making a permanent switch to Everton where he will be the focal point of a team managed by an unabashed fan in Martinez on the other.

That is, of course, if Jose Mourinho even wants him. The Mirror claim that Chelsea have told Lukaku he can leave now that Drogba has agreed to return and the true nature of the pair's relationship has ever really been definitively nailed down.

Sources suggest that, privately, the Blues are hopeful that Lukaku will choose the opportunity for hero status at Everton over an uncertain future at Chelsea and Martinez's quip to supporters at the team's training session in Thailand today that "of course we'll get him" would seem to back that up.

So, too, would comments made to talkSPORT by the club's head of recruitment, Ian Atkins, this evening in which he expressed his hopes that Everton could win the race to sign the Belgium international.

Asked if he felt it was likely that Lukaku would come to Everton this summer Atkins said: "Hopefully. Those negotiations are out of my hands but I think he had a terrific year for Everton last year and I think everyone at the football club would like to see him back and hopefully he'll be pulling the Blue shirt on next year, things can be sorted out and he's quite settled in his mind that he wants to come back to Everton and help us get back to that next level after the [Europa League] this year, hopefully Champions League football the year after.

"Hopefully Lukaku [will sign permanently] because he is something that I know the management team would like in at Everton and I'm sure if he comes in he'll be a great asset."

Atkins' exact words may have been massaged a little on talkSPORT's website to make it seem as though Lukaku's desires are more cut-and-dried than perhaps they are to these ears, Atkins sounds more hopeful than certain regarding the Romelu's intentions but it does add another voice to the chorus from Merseyside encouraging the player to make the leap to Everton.

With Drogba's arrival at Chelsea and Lukaku due back at his current club within the next week, the timeline for what has been an increasingly frustrating saga for many Evertonians would seem to be reaching its climax. Certainly, with Arouna Kone looking less and likely to be ready for action until September and Steven Naismith, therefore, as the only now-recognised striker on the books, it's almost inconceivable that Everton will go into the season opener on 16th August without having added another forward. Whether Martinez chooses to wait as long as that for Lukaku will ultimately depend on how badly he wants him but unless there's another option out there for the player that's not being reported in the media or there's more to the Juve or Real links, it's hard to imagine he could still be stringing everyone along come the middle of next month.

I deliberately left in the run-on sentences in Atkins' comments as I feel they more clearly convey his thoughts than the liberties taken in talkSPORT's interpretation.

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