Romelu Lukaku has been one of the few bright spots for Everton in what was a thoroughly disappointing 2015-16 for the Toffees. They failed to finish in top 10, occupying the 11th position at the end of the season.
In his three years so far at Goodison Park, the Belgian forward has netted an impressive 61 goals in 127 appearances for the club across all competitions. He finished among the top 5 scorers in the league this season, scoring 18 goals. Therefore, he has emerged as one of the hottest properties in the goal-scoring department in Europe.
It has been known for quite some time now that the 23-year-old striker favours a move elsewhere in search of Champions League football in order to propel his career to new heights. Here’s a look at the most probable clubs, in whose colors, Lukaku could turn up on the pitch next season:
1. Paris Saint-Germain
With iconic striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic announcing that he won’t be playing at the Parc des Princes next season, PSG need to fill the gaping hole left in front of the goal by the departure of a player who has been Ligue 1’stop scorer since the last 4 seasons.
Lukaku would be a good, if not perfect, replacement for Ibrahimovic. His desire to play Champions League football would also fulfilled as PSG are almost guaranteed to qualify for the tournament every year. Also, considering that PSG are one of the few clubs would would hardly make a fuss about the high price tag that Everton are expected to set for Lukaku, this deal may easily go through.
Arsenal have failed to find an able replacement for Robin van Persie, who would definitely go down in the football history books as one of the most lethal and clincal finishers, since the Dutchman’s departure in the the summer of 2012.
Olivier Giroud has not lived up to expectations, much to the dislike of the fans while the injury-prone Danny Welbeck cannot be considered as Arsenal’s go-to-man.
Lukaku’s uncanny ability to get around defenders regularly using his physical strength is what Arsenal seem to be lacking. Arsene Wenger’s reluctance to shell out large amounts of money could be an obstacle though, but if Arsenal fail to land their rumored top transfer target, Alvaro Morata, Wenger might as well agree to Everton’s demands.
Juventus prefer to play two strikers up front and with Alvaro Morata all set to depart Turin next season, the Italian champions must surely want another clinical striker to pair up with Paolo Dybala in front of the goal.
Massimiliano Allegri must have concluded that there is hardly anyone better than Lukaku to replace Morata. It has also been reported that Lukaku’s father has confirmed that Lukaku’s agent is trying hard for his client’s summer move to Juventus.
The former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was heavily slammed for deciding to sell Lukaku to Everton in the summer of 2014. Diego Costa was terrific in the initial phase of his career at Stamford Bridge, but now, he is a pale shadow of the player that was signed by Chelsea from Atletico Madrid. There is hardly any top-quality backup striker on the bench too.
Newly-appointed Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte, will surely want to correct Mourinho’s mistake by bringing back Lukaku to Stamford Bridge. Also, as Radamel Falcao, Loic Remy and Alexandre Pato are all expected to leave the club, it would make room for Lukaku to come in for a second stint with the Blues.
The only factor that could cause Lukaku to hesitate in choosing Chelsea over other clubs vying for his signature is the total absence of European football at Stamford Bridge for atleast the next season.
5. Manchester United
Manchester United bore the brunt of heavy criticism because of their uninteresting gameplay under Louis van Gaal, which resulted in abysmal performances in terms of goal-scoring. The Red Devils scored just 49 goals this season, the second-lowest tally among the top 11 teams. Lukaku would add the required teeth to a blunt United attack.
However, the appointment of Jose Mourinho can prove to be major blow to the chances of Lukaku signing for United. The relationship between the two soured at Chelsea and they eventually fell apart. Also, Mourinho has a lot of other options, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rahsford, Wayne Rooney and possibly Zlatan Ibrahimovic, to name a few.