Sunday 25 February 2018

Lukaku turns down offer of new contract with Everton

Romelu Lukaku:
Romelu Lukaku: "I have been playing since I was 16 and never had a taste of the Champions League." Photo credit: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Chris Bascombe

Romelu Lukaku has told Everton he does not want to sign a new contract, paving the way for a summer scramble for his signature.

Negotiations about a new deal have been ongoing for months, with Lukaku's agent Mino Raiola suggesting on numerous occasions it was "99.9 per cent agreed".

However, Lukaku wants to keep his options open rather than put to paper on the £140,000-a-week terms on offer.

The 23-year-old striker has made no secret of his ambition to play in the Champions League and feels it makes more sense to wait until the summer before deciding the next stage of his career.

Lukaku has scored 19 goals for Everton this season and is currently the joint-top goalscorer in the Premier League with Harry Kane.

His value has soared each year he has been at Goodison Park and, despite his decision, Everton will still be able to demand a huge fee should he request a transfer this summer.

Hardball

Equally, Everton could play hardball and resists all offers for the striker, whose current deal still has more than two years to run.

Everton's progress under Koeman has been excellent - they are likely to qualify for the Europa League as things stand - but Lukaku is craving far more than that or lucrative terms on offer.

Speaking a year ago, Lukaku made it known he could not wait forever to play in the elite competition.

"I have been playing since I was 16 and never had a taste of the Champions League," he said.

"It is going to be seven years. You think about it - is it going to happen?

Both Manchester United and his former club Chelsea have been strongly linked with the Belgian, who would almost certainly cost more than the £60m valuation Everton put on his head last season.

Koeman will not be entirely surprised by the events of the last 24 hours. He has received all the messages from Raiola with caution, fully aware of Lukaku's short-term and long-term ambitions.

Earlier this season, Koeman admitted he had two plans upon taking over the squad - one in the event of Lukaku being sold.

The Dutchman talked the Belgian into staying for this campaign but will have a more pragmatic view this time.

Rather prophetically, Koeman gave a blunt response last month when informed of Raiola's comments about a deal being close.

"I don't believe agents," said the Dutchman. (© Daily Telegraph, London).

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