Where to for Lukaku? Chelsea, PSG and other clubs that could meet the Everton striker’s needs
Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku has made it clear he will not be signing a new contract at Everton after questioning the club’s ambition and transfer policy. With two years remaining on his existing deal, Everton could be forced to sell their best player at the end of this season if they decide they cannot convince Lukaku to commit his future to the club. Lukaku’s announcement has inevitably put the transfer rumour mill into overdrive, but which clubs could be realistic options for the Belgium international? We take a look at five possible clubs and the circumstances that could lead to Lukaku’s arrival.
Speculation surrounding a possible return to his former club has re-emerged following reported attempts by Chelsea in the summer to take Lukaku back to Stamford Bridge had Diego Costa returned to Atletico Madrid. As it was, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte convinced Costa to stay, a move that has reaped huge rewards with the Spain international spearheading their Premier League title charge. However, there remains a feeling that Costa is still far from settled at the club. Interest from China in January seemed to turn his head, and while he appears focused on firing Chelsea to a second league title in three seasons, a move away at the end of the campaign would not come as a surprise. Michy Batshuayi, signed last summer for £32 million (Dh145.3m) as Costa’s understudy, has struggled to convince so far, and Conte will surely be in the market for a regular goalscorer should Costa depart. Chelsea have the financial power to negotiate with Everton and the ambition to satisfy Lukaku, but it will all depend on the future of Costa.
Similarly to Chelsea, PSG will have no problem stumping up the cash to match Everton’s asking price — which according to reports will be anything north of £60m — while “winning trophies”, as Lukaku himself said, have become commonplace since their 2011 takeover by Qatar Sports Investments. PSG were credited with an interest in Lukaku last summer following the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, although the Swede’s exit resulted in Edinson Cavani moving in from a wide position to his preferred central striking role, a move that has paid dividends with the Uruguayan scoring 38 goals in all competitions so far. Beyond Cavani, PSG lack another top-class striker, but Lukaku would likely expect to be the main forward at any club he plays for. Like Costa at Chelsea, Cavani’s position at PSG would play a significant part in any possible move for Lukaku.
While potential moves to Chelsea or PSG would likely depend on the future of their current strikers, a possible switch to Dortmund would also likely be dependent on the situation surrounding their main frontman. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is unquestionably among the elite strikers in European football, having scored 76 goals in 118 Bundesliga appearances since joining Dortmund in 2013. His exploits have not gone unnoticed, with Real Madrid consistently linked with a move for the Gabon captain, who himself has made clear his desire to join the 11-time European champions. With Dortmund well off the pace in the Bundesliga title race again and no closer to ending Bayern Munich’s domestic dominance, it would be understandable for Aubameyang to seek a move away sooner rather than later. Should that happen, a vacancy for a regular goalscorer would open up that Lukaku could fill, while any sale of Aubameyang would comfortably cover the fee for Lukaku. Dortmund’s recent lack of competitiveness in the Bundesliga could work against them, however, their consistent presence in the latter stages of the Uefa Champions League — barring last season — provides a major pull. Either way, they would represent a significant step up from Everton.
Financial muscle, huge ambition, and world-level status – Manchester United would be the perfect place from Lukaku’s perspective. Additionally, their long-term striker situation is not resolved. Granted, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been a revelation since arriving last summer, but at 35 the Swede will not be around forever, even if he is still a physical specimen. However, manager Jose Mourinho had major doubts about Lukaku when in charge at Chelsea, so much so that he sanctioned his sale to Everton in 2014 while questioning the striker’s desire in the process. Lukaku has since gone on to establish himself as one of the Premier League’s most effective forwards, but Mourinho is rarely a man to back down or admit fault in such situations. Mourinho does require his lead striker to provide a physical presence and, with his pace, power and goals, Lukaku would fit the bill. Could Mourinho essentially admit he made a mistake with Lukaku and take him to Old Trafford? Doubtful but not beyond the realms of possibility.
Gone are the days at Monaco of spending upwards of €40m (Dh157.6m) on players, but with the Principality club barging their way into Europe’s elite this season, they have again become a plausible destination for top players, only this time on merit rather than by ludicrous spending. Radamel Falcao has rediscovered his best form this season, but at 31, the Colombian striker’s time at the top is only decreasing. Meanwhile, whether this summer or in the near future, there is sure to be a huge bid tabled for teenage striker Kylian Mbappe, which would free up space in the starting line-up and provide the funds to sign Lukaku. Monaco may seem like a long-shot but they tick the boxes Lukaku is demanding; a club with ambition, competing for trophies, and in the Champions League, while their free-scoring style will appeal to any striker.
Bayern Munich: A dream club for any striker but with Robert Lewandowski as their main striker, the German giants would be an unlikely destination.
Barcelona: Who would turn down the Spanish champions? But no striker is breaking up their front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
Real Madrid: Well stocked with central strikers in Karim Benzema and Alvaro Morata, but should they enter the market, would set their sights higher than Lukaku.
Manchester City: Got the ambition and finances but Pep Guardiola might be reluctant given his specific style of play. Plus Gabriel Jesus has just arrived.
China: Very unlikely. But money talks.
Updated: March 16, 2017 04:00 AM