Romelu Lukaku completes permanent, $47 million move to Everton


It was more expensive that reported last week, but after whispers of a larger fee circulating this morning, it was apparent a deal for Romelu Lukaku would get done. Now, after Everton and Chelsea have agreed on a $47.3 million (£28 million), the big Belgian is on the move, with a five-year deal sending him back to Goodison Park.

Lukaku spent the 2013-14 season with the Toffees, scoring a team-high 15 league goals. Having scoring 17 times the previous season at West Bromwich Albion, Lukaku coming off back-to-back successes away from Stamford Bridge.

With today’s deal, Chelsea’s been able to capitalize on that production, getting a significant return on the $31.3 million they paid Anderlecht in Aug. 2011. In the process, Everton sets a club record transfer fee, topping the $27 million it paid Standard Leige for Marouane Fellaini six years ago.

“I am really excited about rejoining Everton,” Lukaku said, via Everton’s website. “I had a fantastic experience last season and a great relationship with the manager, the chairman, the staff, the players and the fans. I can’t wait to get started again and I’m looking forward to a successful season.”

It’s an optimism that’s shared by Everton manager Roberto Martínez, who banked money brought in from last year’s sales of Fellaini, Victor Anichebe, and Nikica Jelavic to make today’s deal possible.

“The arrival of Rom is more than just a signing,” Martínez explained, “it’s the fruition of a lot of hard work to get the player we wanted. This is a big moment for Everton’s history and the perfect way of getting the squad ready for the start of the season.”

“Welcoming Romelu Lukaku back to Everton on a permanent basis is the news that all Evertonians wanted to hear,” Martínez said.

It was an essential signing for the Toffees, who would have gone into the season relying on Steven Naismith had Lukaku stayed at Stamford Bridge. With the Belgian international’s return, key pieces to last year’s fifth place finish will be back this season.

For Chelsea, it’s a good day, too. The ability to flip Lukaku at significant profit is validation. Their plan of swallowing up young players, amortizing the transfer fees, and flipping the talent that doesn’t crack the senior team is developing into a source of income, one that allows a team at the edges of Financial Fair Play to remain a buyer in the transfer market.

Alexis Sanchez says he “expected better” from himself at Manchester United

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Alexis Sanchez isn’t happy with his performance so far at Manchester United.

The Chilean superstar has scored just one goal for the Red Devils in 10 appearances since joining from Arsenal, and the club has lost three of those games and has been knocked out of the Champions League by Sevilla.

Speaking with Chilean media on national team duty in Sweden, Sanchez said he expects more of himself and that he’s so far let himself down. “As I am self-demanding, I expected something better,” Sanchez said. “After my arrival at United, it was hard to change everything very quickly. I even hesitated to come here [to join the national team].”

Chile missed out on World Cup qualification, and has friendlies with Sweden and Denmark scheduled over the next week. With so little at stake, Sanchez was poised to take time off from the national team, but says he was convinced by Manchester City goalkeeper and Chilean captain Claudio Bravo to stick it out.

“The change of club was something that was very abrupt – it was the first time I’ve changed clubs in January – but many things have happened in my life that are difficult,” Sanchez said. “I had asked permission to miss these games, but then I thought better and spoke with Claudio and told him that we should all be united.”

Once the international break is over, Manchester United resumes Premier League play against Swansea at the end of March before an April 7th derby meeting with Manchester City.

James Collins injured in West Ham friendly

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West Ham defender James Collins hobbled off the field in the 29th minute of the Hammers’ friendly against Dagenham & Redbridge on Wednesday, a big blow to the club’s already paper-thin back line.

With the league on an international break, West Ham agreed to play a friendly against Dagenham & Redbridge to help raise money for National League club that could be in serious financial trouble. However, it could be detrimental to the short-term future of the Hammers, who are hoping to stave off relegation, sitting just two points above the drop.

The 34-year-old defender has missed significant time this season due to injury, with an ankle injury keeping Collins out for nearly three months in 2017. West Ham has lost just four of the 12 Premier League matches Collins has appeared in this season, with three clean sheets. However, two of those have come in the club’s last three games, thrashed by a combined 7-1 scoreline between 90 minutes against Liverpool and Burnley.

The injury comes at the worst possible time, with West Ham set to play Southampton in a critical relegation matchup between teams in the in 17th and 18th in the Premier League table. The Hammers are already without defender Winston Reid who remains out for the season with a knee injury, while the club sold center-back Jose Fonte to Chinese club Dalian Yifang F.C. in late February.

West Ham was hoping to do its part to help save the London club. Former director Glyn Hopkin abruptly resigned and pulled all financial backing in early February, leaving the club fearing for its immediate future. They reportedly need $353,000 just to stay afloat the rest of the season, even with zero club debt.

Men In Blazers podcast: Mohamed Salah continues to shine

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Rog and Davo marvel at Mo Salah’s four goal, one dime haul in Liverpool’s 5-0 beatdown of Watford, analyze Jose Mourinho’s recent rants about football heritage at Manchester United, and recap Rog’s family trip to Stoke vs. Everton.

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1912 FA Cup winner’s medal stolen

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A 106-year-old footballing relic has been snatched from a house in England.

The home of the 82-year-old grandson of former Barnsley player Philip Bratley was burglarized last weekend according to the BBC and other reports, and among the items stolen was an “invaluable” FA Cup winner’s medal from 1912.

That year, Barnsley defeated West Bromwich Albion in the finals of the 41st FA Cup, with Bratley scoring the winning goal in the semifinal replay over Swindon Town. He went on to make over 100 appearances for Barnsley between 1910 and 1014 before moving transferring to Liverpool, where he spent one season before he left during the first World War.

“This item is of great sentimental value to the family and belonged to the 82-year-old victim’s grandfather who, at the time, played for Barnsley,” the South Yorkshire police said. “The family is extremely upset that this, along with many of their belongings, have been stolen. If you have any information please get in touch so we can try and reunite this invaluable item with its rightful owner.”

Barnsley has offered to assist the South Yorkshire police in their search for the stolen artifact, as those with any information are encouraged to contact either entity to share what they may know.