Let’s take a moment to appreciate the sheer beast that is Romelu Lukaku.
The Belgian netted four goals in Everton’s 6-3 hammering of Bournemouth last weekend to take his overall Premier League record to a staggering 76 goals in 171 appearances. Not bad for a 23-year-old, is it?
His recent display in front of goal has had many fans questioning whether he should be looking for a move to a bigger club than Everton in the summer. That’s no disrespect to Everton, thought, who have bounced back from a disappointing season last term to challenge for a top six finish under new boss Ronald Koeman this season. That’s where they should be every season.
But with Lukaku seemingly improving as a footballer with every passing season – he has hit double figures in each of the last four seasons since he last played for Chelsea – should he be playing for a club that is competing for league titles and in the Champions League instead? Or can he be the man to help spearhead Everton in to the top four of the Premier League and beyond?
We asked a handful of our writers whether Lukaku has simply outgrown Everton Football Club, and here’s what they think…
He’s getting there. Rather than outgrowing Everton at the moment, he is pulling them up to the next level. That said, the greatest test of any top quality player is consistency and Lukaku is still too streaky to be worth the enormous fee that Everton would demand.
As devastating as he was against Bournemouth, he was becalmed against Stoke. The very best strikers cannot afford to have regular scoreless streaks and for that reason I think he’ll remain an Everton player for a while yet, much to the benefit of the Toffees.
No doubt, there are still weaknesses in Lukaku’s game; his buildup play can be painfully cumbersome at times; and he’s still plagued by the inconsistency of youth.
But 76 Premier League goals is a phenomenal tally for a 23-year-old and 16 this season already is made all-the-more impressive by the fact Everton rank eighth in terms of created chances, so it’s not as if he’s benefiting from particularly exceptional service.
As Roberto Martinez said at the weekend, his finishing ability is already world-class. The real question, however, is whether he has the mentality to handle the pressure of a big club – there’s certainly a prima-donna side to him.
But that can be a problem at any age, and I think most big clubs would rather take the chance now than in a few years, when his price-tag will likely have increased significantly.
If I was asked this question last season, I would have said yes 100%.
However, with the project Ronald Koeman is developing at Goodison Park I think it would be wise for Lukaku to stay for another year. There’s no doubt Lukaku is a player who should be playing in the Champions League but I also don’t think this summer is the right time to move, as it seems like there will be a number of big-hitters switching clubs – notably Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa, Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema.
That may limit the big sides that Lukaku could move to and he needs to be a guaranteed starter.
I think outgrown is disrespectful: Everton are a big club in their own right with a good history, a promising manager and big plans, but that shouldn’t add up to guilt Lukaku into staying put – the time is right for him to move on.
He’ll be 24 at the end of the season and it was fairly clear last year that he was agitating for a transfer to a genuine elite club and I don’t think he can really go another off-season without doing so.
Lukaku has unreal potential and maybe playing in a better team with better players where he will not be looked at to provide the inspiration for every result will favour him. He wasn’t really given a fair crack at Chelsea, but he was very young then and that experience may help him.
It’s not guaranteed that he’ll stay in England, but if he does Manchester United seems like a good fit, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic nearing the end of his career, but the money needed could be an issue if their Antoine Griezmann pursuit is genuine.