Romelu Lukaku comments frustrate Ronald Koeman - but striker will keep his place
Everton manager Ronald Koeman is unhappy with Romelu Lukaku for speaking out about his contract and issues he has with the club - but the striker will not be dropped for his comments.
The Belgium international has said he will not sign a new deal - supposedly "99.9 per cent done" - because he has concerns about Everton's ambition.
Koeman was angry with what Lukaku said but the Toffees boss insists he is not "afraid" about the situation because the 23-year-old has more than two years remaining on his deal.
"Of course I am not happy about that interview. If Everton is not a club with a lot of ambition I would not be manager," said Koeman.
"He has no problem. He is training how he needs to train, his behaviour - except some quotes in this interview - is what I like from the player and there is no reason to put him out of the team.
"The team needs Rom and Rom needs the team to score goals.
"But I am not so afraid about his situation because the player has more than two years on his contract.
"Everyone knows what can happen in football but you need to respect your contract."
Koeman has not yet ruled out disciplining Lukaku for his interview, conducted at a club-organised community event, but said Everton would make a considered decision on that.
"First thing is you speak with the player, then I will speak with the board and we will see what will happen but then we have the international break so we have time enough with what we need to do," the manager added.
Lukaku has spoken regularly about wanting to play in the Champions League and as the Premier League's joint top scorer with 19 goals this season he will attract the interest of Europe's top clubs in the summer.
Everton managed to fend off former club Chelsea last year but even with two years left on Lukaku's contract the Toffees may find it more difficult this time around.
The striker turns 24 in May and wants to be playing at the highest level he can as soon as possible and Koeman admits there is no fast-track for Everton to get there.
However, he has spoken to Lukaku several times this season about his vision, which is why he is so disappointed the Belgian decided to go public with his frustrations.
"Every player likes to play for titles, in the Champions League: that is a normal ambition," Koeman said.
"What we need to do and like to do is show everyone that if there is one club outside of the big six to make the next step, then it is Everton.
"I think it is impossible to do this in one transfer window, in one season. It takes time.
"That is a message for everybody. The manager every day is trying to get the best and strongest team we can have.
"It is not only money, it is about showing players they see ambition and the development of the team and the club is progressing."