It’s certainly been an eventful month for Everton Football Club, that’s for sure.
I’m well aware that it isn’t quite the end of the month yet, but seeing as Everton are to play no further football in March I thought I’d get to the monthly review early, especially since I forgot about it last month.
So not the worst of months, all things said and done. Things started slightly pear-shaped with the 3-2 away loss to Tottenham, but the club shaped things out with comprehensive home wins against West Brom and Hull, 3-0 and 4-0 respectively, to extend an impressive home run in 2017 for the Toffees.
Also, with the EFL Cup final going our way and with the FA Cup semi-finals including exclusively top Premier League sides, 7th place is now open to European qualification – unless Leicester do the unthinkable. So providing there isn’t a late hitch, Everton will be back on the big stage in the not too distant future.
Unfortunately, that’s not all the news for the month.
So getting straight to it, it looks like Romelu Lukaku could finally bring his Everton career to a close this summer. It’s no foregone conclusion, but it does seem as though Lukaku’s thirst for Champions League football will be quenched next season.
It all started through the contract negotiations it seems, where Lukaku turned down a new lucrative contract which would have seen him become Everton’s highest ever earner. I’m not a club insider and I certainly don’t have any inside sources, but from what I gather it seems that the club wanted to put in a £90million buy-out clause in Lukaku’s new contract, a fee he deemed far too high, with the Belgian and his super-agent Mino Raiola looking for around £70million as the escape hatch price tag.
In all fairness, although it’s admirable that the club would stick to its guns by demanding top dollar for its talent, it does seem a tad too optimistic to set a price tag that would set a new world record transfer fee, should the Belgian hitman leave.
In any case, it later emerged that Lukaku’s actual reason for declining the deal was due to the club lacking ambition. In my opinion, a great announcement. Initially, I was gutted – Lukaku declining the contract was a real gut punch, but on further thought I see it as a hugely positive thing.
Everton are moving in a certain direction under Ronald Koeman’s guidance and Farhad Moshiri’s stewardship, and if that direction and end goal is to be properly realised, then the board need provoking. Lukaku’s comments, although untimely, will hopefully provoke the board into being more clinical with their transfer dealings.
Although it may be too late to persuade Lukaku to stay, his comments will hopefully aid in helping keep others in the future. Lukaku’s goals will be sorely missed, but he will certainly fetch a hefty transfer fee and the board will have no choice but to spend left, right and centre in the summer.
With Enner Valencia’s loan expiring and Arouna Koné’s contract being up, Everton will have to recruit on the attacking front anyway. Why not spend even more money? Every cloud, they say…
That said, there is still much of March to go. Maybe Lukaku and Barkley will have both signed a new five-year deal before the derby on April 1st – it’s unlikely, but stranger things have happened in football.
Final word for Morgan Schneiderlin who has been sensational since he joined the club in January. Let’s all plead with the footballing gods that he’ll be fit as a fiddle before the derby, we’ll definitely need him.
Until then, let’s just enjoy the international break, *sigh*.