It was the audition that was supposed to secure the summer transfer of his dreams.
As Everton took to the field against Manchester United, there was a sense in the air that Romelu Lukaku’s time at Goodison could be coming to a rather untasteful end.
He was extremely forthright in his comments about his longing for Champions League football and pulled no punches when he rather underhandedly mentioned he would leave Everton to do that.
Because let’s admit it, The Toffees have been poor this season. They were widely expected to challenge for the European places at the start of the season, with the likes of Lukaku, Barkley and Stones set to lead their charge, but it hasn’t gone quite to plan. After some intense transfer speculation, John Stones has been dropped to the bench after some inconsistent performances and Ross Barkley hasn’t been the same player as in previous seasons.
Whilst Lukaku has been at his monstrous best on some occasions, on others, he just hasn’t looked interested. And unfortunately for the Belgian international, he didn’t make his mark at Old Trafford last week.
It was the stage he needed to prove to the world he was good enough for a transfer to a Champions League contender. Transfer speculation has been rife and during the game, Lukaku proved to be extremely ineffective, which would have been disappointing for the fans who want to see him in their jersey next season.
What was it that got to him? Was it stage fright or nerves? Or maybe it was just that he had a bad game. However, if you are looking to get a transfer to one of Europe’s biggest clubs, then being in Daley Blind’s pocket the whole game isn’t the way to go. The centre-back isn’t the most physically-charged player in the universe and Lukaku would have been licking his lips before the lineup.
But it wasn’t to be this time and the Belgian will be extremely disappointed by the whole occasion.
So what now? Everton still have a few games to try and finish the season on a high. Although the Toffees aren’t really playing for anything now this term, Roberto Martinez is still under pressure to get results and the fans are slowly beginning to turn on the former Swansea manager.
Lukaku has time to put things right and he will have Euro 2016 as a motive to put some strong performances in before the season comes to an end. His place in the Belgian side is all-but-confirmed thanks to Christian Benteke’s horrific season but he will want to finish strongly for his club.
At the end of the day, the overpowering Belgian is good enough to play Champions League football when he’s at his powerful best and we’ve seen that on many occasions during his time in the Premier League. He’s also made no qualms about linking back up with Jose, should he move to one of Europe’s giants.
One game doesn’t decide a career but Lukaku would have hoped for more against the Red Devils.