Is this Everton star set for an early exit?

After an excellent campaign last season which saw them secure European qualification; narrowly missing out on Champions League qualification, it’s fair to say this season has been a huge disappointment for Everton.

Baring some excellent performances in the Europa League, which were ultimately in vein as they crashed out in Ukraine, a lack of victories in the Premier League has been a real cause for concern.

One positive during a difficult season for the Merseyside outfit has been the performances of their star striker Romelu Lukaku, who has impressed yet again.

Following a successful loan spell at the club, Lukaku made a permanent switch to Everton last summer with Chelsea cashing in on one their brightest prospects for £28m. And although they will be delighted in the way he has performed at times this season; scoring 18 goals along the way, Roberto Martinez will now be anxious at the prospect of losing him this summer.

Having flourished in the Europa League this season with eight goals, it’s no surprise he has caught the eye of other clubs. There’s no doubting he has the ability to play at the highest level, and at just 21-years-of-age he has the potential to become one of Europe’s leading strikers, something he is already well on his way to achieving.

And here lies the problem for Everton.

It appears they will take no part in European competition next season, something that will disappoint a player of Lukaku’s ability. The Belgian will surely be looking to establish himself at a top European club who can offer him Champions League football on a yearly basis, and given his ability you can definitely see why.

The striker belongs in the Champions League, or it’s understudy the Europa League at the very least, but unable to guarantee him this, Everton face the reality of losing their prime asset – and who could blame him if he tells the club he wants to move on?

It’s certainly possible that he may decide to stay at the club for another season and help them push once again for a top four finish, but failure to achieve this would surely mark the end of his time at Everton. Last month Lukaku publically revealed his ambition to arrive at a top club again, and having been linked with a summer move to Wolfsburg by Mirror Sport, it would be no surprise to see him move on at the end of the season.

The German outfit are well and truly on the up, and having impressed in the Bundesliga look set to take the Champions League by storm next season. Despite two loses to Everton in the group stages, they are firm favourites to lift the Europa League and would appear a perfect fit for Lukaku to take his career to the next level.

With former Chelsea teammates Andre Schurrle and Kevin De Bruyne having benefited from a move to Wolfsburg, the Belgian would surely be tempted given the kind of talented squad they are beginning to assemble.

And with the Toffees typically regarded as a selling club, there will surely come a time when they will agree to cash in on the striker for a decent profit. Whether it will be this year remains to be seen, but if I were the Everton chairman I would already be lining up a replacement for when the inevitable happens.