Romelu Lukaku reminded the world of his potential to go on to great things, as he found his groove in Euro 2016 for Belgium. The 23-year-old put away two precise finishes to give his country the impetus to push forward in the tournament, and remind his prospective suitors how formidable he can be on his day. There is little doubt that Everton's Number 10 is poised to elevate his game and become one of the world's elite strikers, the questions are, when will this happen, and for whom? Ronald Koeman's primary objective this summer should be to keep hold of the forward, and restructure the squad around him.
There have been endless rumours surrounding Lukaku's future for months now, ever since the player suggested he would be seeking a move away from the club, in search of Champions League football. Surprisingly, though, it is Chelsea, a club who can't offer any European football next season, who are the frontrunners to sign the player. This has angered Toffees fans somewhat, as the club spurned the player in the past, deeming him surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge. Why would the Belgian want to return there?
The tides may be shifting, however, as Farhad Moshiri, Everton's wealthy shareholder, brought in one of the most sought after managers in the Premier League to rescue the club. Koeman has been tasked with bringing Everton back up to the pinnacle of English football, and has been granted a club record-breaking transfer budget with which to do it. Now, the prospects of Chelsea under Antonio Conte, a club also in recovery, and Everton under Koeman look relatively similar. It would be disastrous for Lukaku's career if he decided to jump ship and move to Chelsea, only for his former club to go on to great things.
As the primary spearhead of this Everton attack, the Belgian knows that his position in the team is secure. Moving to London could bring about some uncertainty in a squad that already has Diego Costa and Loic Remy, although the latter may be on the move to China. In addition to that, Conte has reportedly expressed an interest in bringing Spain's first-choice forward, Alvaro Morata, to Stamford Bridge, which would lead to further doubts about Lukaku's security of starts. Â
Koeman's two seasons at Southampton are evidence of his supreme capabilities. In both of the summer transfer windows during the Dutchman's tenure, the club sold key players to their rivals. Even so, the former Ajax manager managed to steer the team to their highest ever league finishes, two seasons in a row. As of late June, Everton are 80/1 to win the league with Betway, but these odds could be slashed as Koeman looks to secure quality reinforcements to bolster the squad, and instil his own philosophy among the players. Â
Whether Lukaku decides to stay or not will also be a huge factor as to how the bookies view Everton's chances in the 2016-17 season. According to the Daily Telegraph, the club are prepared to offer the man who bagged 18 goals last season a significant wage boost after he returns from the Euros, worth over Â£100,000 per week. Many Everton fans will be hoping that this will be enough to retain the striker's services, and that similar to the media circus surrounding John Stones last summer, none of this speculation will come to fruition.
Lukaku performed outstandingly last season in an Everton side that were playing well below expectations. In a revitalised and strengthened squad and under a prestigious manager, the beastly Belgian could become the top striker in the Premier League.