Questions over Romelu Lukaku’s mentality at Everton 1


Romelu Lukaku’s move to Everton was a good moment for the Premier League.  It was a statement of intent from a side who, ever since the creation of the breakaway tier in English football, have been hamstrung by a lack of financial clout and have been unable to compete properly as a result.

In the modern era - and being as awash with Oligarch and oil cash as it is - £28m is not as much money as it once was, but it still far exceeds anything the club have paid for a player before and it’s actually refreshing to see talent migrating towards Goodison Park rather than away from it.

Regardless, Lukaku is now an Everton player and he has finally be removed from the limbo of the loan world.

The assumption would normally be that adding a sense of permanence would be beneficial to a player’s career, and I think this is one of those times.  Roberto Martinez got a lot out of Lukaku last season and his usage of the Belgian was both productive and, at times, inventive.  Nevertheless, he must always have harboured doubts over Bill Kenwright’s ability to retain the forward beyond the end of last season and that would have been restrictive.

Martnez obviously did a tremendous job last season, but it must have been hard for him at times and there must have been moments when he was wary of establishing an attacking unit around a player who was, at best, fifty-fifty to still be there in a year’s time.  That may have been a reality that lurked beneath the surface last season, but it was still very real and it would have been difficult - there’s a difference between building a team for a season and creating a side that can grow and mature together for the foreseeable future.

None of that matters now, though, and there are many reasons to be envious of Everton; Martinez has a nucleus of talent that is appreciating all the time.  If the club can keep John Stones, Ross Barkley, James McCarthy, Muhamed Besic, Seamus Coleman and Lukaku at the club for the long term, the Champions League is not an unrealistic objective.  The bids will soon be coming for Barkley and Stones - that’s inevitable - but resist those, continue to build and buy sensibly, and Everton could well be heading into a new era of their history.  It must be a very exciting time for the fans and there must be an enthusiasm around Goodison Park that some of the younger supporters will never have known.

There is a caveat about Lukaku, though.

He’s shown himself to be a very ambitious player in the past and over the last two years he has frequently suggested that he believed himself to be good enough to play for Chelsea.  That’s great, because you want that in a young player - especially a forward.  At the same time, though, he and his agent have been very vocal in the press and have been hardly shy in courting the attention of suitor clubs.

Maybe that was just a reaction to being on-loan, maybe it was a tactic to catch Chelsea’s attention, and maybe that will all now dissipate at Everton.  But what happens if the club’s progress doesn’t quite match his expectation?  Everton are on an upward trend, there’s no doubt about that, but growth phases take time and team potential is rarely realised within a single season.  Modern players aren’t known for their patience and Lukaku has always come across as someone who is in a rush to get to the big stage.

Hopefully he recognises that he’s in a great place and surrounded by some truly elite talent, and now that he does have a permanent home his need for media attention recedes.  The initial signs are good and he’s been very humble since completing his move; let’s hope he stays that way and appreciates that this is the perfect situation for him for the next three, four, five years and beyond.

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