Everton had one player reach double-digit goals last season, and as of right now, he’s on the books of Chelsea. Should Romelu Lukaku stay that way, the Toffees will be reliant on Kevin Mirallas and Ross Barkley to pick up the slack, all the while praying Steve Naismith or Arouna Koné can imitate a reliable Premier League forward.
That may be why Everton’s willing to rewrite their record books for Lukaku. According to one report, the Toffees are ready to exceed the $27 million it took to get Maraoune Fellaini from Standard Liege six years ago. To get Lukaku back on a permanent deal, Roberto Martínez is willing to approach $35 million.
The Everton manager is prepared to spend the vast majority of his transfer budget on the forward, who enjoyed a successful loan spell at Goodison Park last season, and negotiations between the clubs are continuing amid rival interest in the 21-year-old. Lukaku would become Everton’s record signing should a deal be reached for the £20m-rated striker but Martínez has not ruled out the prospect of acquiring the Belgium international on another season-long loan.
While Chelsea fans may prefer the young Belgian get a chance at Stamford Bridge before the club considers a sale, José Mourinho’s depth chart may not have room. The Blues’ boss has often reference his desire to keep three forwards, and while rumors of Fernando Torres’ return to Atlético Madrid persist, the Spanish international will likely join Diego Costa and Didier Drogba as Mourinho’s main options.
That may leave Lukaku in search of another home, be it through another loan deal or on a permanent basis. If Chelsea can get a decent return on its investment, it makes sense to sell Lukaku; else, with the 21-year-old’s value still likely to rise, another temporary home will keep the 21-year-old under the club’s control.
Still, there’s only so long Chelsea can play that game, and with Lukaku’s contract up at the end of the 2015-16 season, now may be the best time to maximize his resale value. While Everton’s offer doesn’t give the Blues huge return on the $31.3 million they invested three years ago, a clause that gives Chelsea a percentage of a future sale would allow the team to preserve some upside.
From Everton’s point of view, the club just wants Lukaku back, but for Chelsea, time may be running out. If Mourinho doesn’t have a place in the squad, the Blues have two transfer windows to keep their player’s value becoming compromised, a la Toni Kroos.