Everton deserve better than Lukaku’s lack of respect
There are few things more irritating than hearing a top footballer saying he wants to satiate his craving for trophies by leaving one big club to join a rival. And so it is with Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, who having invited his agent to negotiate a massive £130,000-a-week deal to remain on Merseyside for five more years, decided he was destined for better things.
The agent, Mino Riola, had assured Everton’s fans and suits that his client was 99.99% certain to commit his future to the club. And then Lukaku said he was not prepared to sign a new deal.
Lukaku will find a sympathetic ear with his current manager Ronald Koeman. “No, because I am the manager of Southampton, and I have the contract for two years more,” said the Dutchman in April 2015 when asked about his future. “I have to respect my contract, I like to respect my contract and I am very happy.” And very soon after he was gone to Everton, where he earns a lot more money.
Koeman’s in it for the long haul, right? “Everybody knows you can’t do this in one year,” he said of Everton’s target. “It takes time. How long did it take for Tottenham to be where they are now? Three or four years. You can’t do it in one year.”
Anyone want to bet Koeman will be at Everton in three years time?
Of course, the big difference between Koeman and Lukaku is that one is in a position of authority, trusted by the owners to build a winning team to their budget, and the other is there to execute the manager’s tactics to the best of his abilities.
Lukaku’s misstep was to question whether Everton share his ambitions to win trophies and play Champions’ League football. “I don’t know, I don’t know what the board’s plan is. I don’t really know,” he opined, seeming to suggest the owners should keep their striker in the loop and maybe invite him into the boardroom to discuss everything from the new ground to catering facilities.
Of course the club wants to be successful. It’s why Everton are offering to make him the best-paid player. But Lukaku thinks he should be calling the shots not just making them. “Obviously, stuff is changing and stuff is happening but there were some players that we could have got, that I knew the club could have got, and they didn’t get,” said Lukaku to media invited to visit Everton’s training ground for an anti-racism event. “And they are playing in this league. I am not saying names but they are doing well.”
Before Romelu gets a job as Everton’s chief negotiator, he should look at the players Everton did get: Yannick Bolasie was bought for £25m, Morgan Schneidelin arrived for £20m and a further £10m brought in Ademola Lookman.
“No matter where you play you want to be remembered,” he continued with no pause for self-reflection, modesty and respect for the shirt. “You cannot only be remembered by scoring goals, you want to be remembered by winning trophies. That is what the fans want. So instead of living in the past, you have to think ahead. How this club has to grow, how this club has to improve, which player does it want to bring in so you can challenge for the big trophies?”
You, Romelu. They are offering you over £30m in wages to be the club’s totem pole – which is a pretty literal description because although powerful Lukaku is a terrific finisher he’s not the most mobile 23-year-old. There is room for improvement.
Lukaku can, of course, seek a better deal and an improved chance of winning trophies wherever he likes. He does not have to wait for Everton to reach the Champions’ League before he plays in it.
But he’d be well advised not to bemoan his lot and forget why it was that Chelsea got rid of him and Everton moved to make him key to their ambitions. He can do better than that.