One of the biggest names linked with a move away from his current employers this summer is Romelu Lukaku, with a reluctance to sign a new contract at Everton all signs point to a departure from Goodison Park in this transfer window.
And it seems as if Lukaku himself has poured fuel on the fire in regards to his transfer status with the comments he made earlier in the week. The Belgian international was quoted as saying “I don’t want to stay at the same level. I want to improve and I know where I want to do that”
That obviously implies a move away from the stewardship of Ronald Koeman and a move offering Champions League football next season. If we look at the top seven of the Premier League campaign which has just recently finished it automatically negates a move to Arsenal by virtue of their 5th place finish and subsequent debut in the Europa League.
That leaves us with the five teams that qualified for the Champions League next season as possible destinations, of course this is with the assumption that Lukaku stays in England. Although on the balance of probabilities that does seem more than likely.
Therefore I think it is safe to imply that the 24 year old will not be making the short move across Merseyside to Liverpool to link up with Jurgen Klopp. By the same token I think it is fair to say that Tottenham can be ruled out as a possible destination due to a certain Harry Kane.
There is no doubt that Tottenham would be keen to acquire the services of Lukaku but realistically you have to wonder just how he would fit into Mauricio Pochettino’s system and therefore the former West Brom loanee would be looking at a berth of substitutes bench.
That then leaves us three possible destinations in two locations, either Manchester or London. If you were to look at Manchester City then it is hard to imagine Lukaku playing in a team managed Pep Guardiola. You get the feeling he would be something of a square peg in a round hole at The Etihad.
Lukaku did impress in the two head to head meetings between City and Everton last season as The Toffees earned four points from a maximum six. Lukaku scored for Everton in the 1-1 away draw and was then instrumental in the thrashing that Everton handed out in the return fixture.
He may have well caused Pep Guardiola nightmares on the two occasions that they went to head and head but it arguably was not enough to ignite a desire to bring Lukaku to the blue half of Manchester. City seem well stocked in attack and of course have Gabriel Jesus ready to be unleashed for a full season of English football.
So it leaves to just two possible English destinations, those being either Manchester United or Chelsea. It is either a return to working under Jose Mourinho or is it a return to Stamford Bridge and playing for the current Premier League champions.
The obvious connection is that of Chelsea, not only are they the league champions but also Lukaku was originally signed to the club from Anderlecht back in 2011. His first spell was something of a forgettable one as he only made 10 league appearances for the club in a three year stint with the West London side.
A stint that the majority of time was spent on loan, firstly a season at West Brom for the 2012/13 campaign saw him score 17 times in 35 league appearances. A ratio just short of a goal every other game and one that meant his career was set for further progression.
That progression came with a loan season with Everton for the 2013/14 campaign, one that saw him register 15 goals in 31 appearances and again just shy of the one goal every other game ratio. After another impressive loan season the question was whether or not a recall to Stamford Bridge would be in the offing.
Lukaku at the time felt that if he was to return his path to regular first team football would still be blocked and it was believed that it was in his best interests to look for a permanent move away from the Blues. With a successful season at Everton under his belt then that was the obvious place for him to now call home.
In three seasons that Lukaku has spent on Merseyside as a permanent Everton player he has made 110 apperances in the Premier League with a return of 43 goals. For an outlay of £28m that is certainly not a return to be sniffed at but the problem now is that Everton cannot meet the players personal ambition.
An ambition that wants to see him play at the very highest level and that ultimately means the Champions League, not only that but a possible return to Chelsea would no longer mean that he would be biding his time for first team football.
Should Chelsea land the capture of Lukaku then that would certainly mean the departure of Diego Costa. The former Atletico Madrid man has long been courted by suitors in the Chinese Super League and the arrival of Lukaku would edge him further out of the Stamford Bridge exit door.
Of course the other option is to of course move to Manchester United but the most pertinent question here will be whether or not Lukaku wants to reignite the partnership he had with Jose Mourinho, albeit one that was not particularly fruitful.
Lukaku only made two Premier League appearances under Mourinho in the 2013/14 season at Chelsea before his permanent move to Everton was completed, something that still rankles with the Everton striker and a point that makes him apprehensive to link up with the former Real Madrid manager.
With Manchester United losing their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic to injury and being rebuffed by both
Antoine Griezmann and Gareth Bale as of late then the Europa League winners hunt for a marquee signing this summer still continues.
Lukaku has long been linked with United as Jose Mourinho looks to try and put right the wrongs him made by selling the forward to Everton. But it seems as if the hard sell is not going to work with it still not being water under the bridge as far the number 10 is concerned.
Therefore it seems as if Chelsea are the clear favourites in which to land Lukaku, it may well end up be a fee in excess of £70m that in itself is a costly figure to pay for someone who was once on your books but that is just how the market is these days and this is a player who is certainly worth the fee.
He perhaps is not quite the real deal just yet but that is more of a case of not if he will be but when and should a return to Chelsea facilitate then he will have all the tools in which to truly reach his potential and become the fearsome striker that many have expected to be.