After Romelu Lukaku posted a picture on his Instagram account with the caption ‘time to write a new chapter’ with a gleaming smiling, many thought either he was returning to Stamford Bridge to play for Chelsea next season, or the unfounded rumors were true, that Lukaku was on his way to Real Madrid. The next picture he posted revealed it was neither Chelsea nor Real Madrid he was going to. Lukaku had arrived at Goodison Park.
Lukaku’s deal was worth a whopping £28million, nearly doubling the previous transfer fee record of £15million that Everton paid for Marouane Fellaini. For the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United, and even Arsenal, Liverpool, and Tottenham these days, the amount may seem a lilliputian figure, but for a club like Everton, the only one of the aforementioned clubs without a foreign investor as its owner, it’s a landmark signing. To lure a player from UEFA Champion’s League contenders like Chelsea and Real Madrid was a feat, but for a player of Lukaku’s stature, the tides could very well turn for the Toffees.
Previous manager David Moyes was instrumental in making the Toffees a Premier League mainstay club, nearly guiding them to the Champions League Group Stage in 2005 and always ending the season in respectable positions. But it was the Scotsman’s inability to hold onto key players like Wayne Rooney, Thomas Gravesen, Joleon Lescott, and Jack Rodwell that casts him aside from current coach Roberto Martinez.
The Spanish coach has proved to be a consistent manager from his previous positions at Swansea City and Wigan Athletic, and has been nothing short of remarkable in his first season with the club. Last season, Martinez’s team was the longest running side that went unbeaten (for nearly 2 months), and although they underperformed in the both the FA and League Cup, Everton finished 5th, meaning they will play Europa League football this upcoming season. On their way to finishing just one position away from Champion’s League football, Martinez steered his side to wins against Chelsea and Arsenal, and most impressively, Everton completed the double against Manchester United, then coached by former Everton boss Moyes.
In addition to Lukaku opting to remain a Toffee, Everton has a new acquisition in Muhamed Besic, signed from Hungary’s Ferencvaros, and perhaps Bosnia and Herzegovina’s best player in their World Cup run this summer. They have also managed to get midfield sensation Ross Barkley to extend his contract with the club, and have swayed former Manchester City man Gareth Barry to make his move to Goodison a permanent one.
With one more month left for clubs to wheel and deal in the summer transfer window, Everton will perhaps get one or two more players in, but it’s the signing of Lukaku that has been their biggest deal, not just this summer but perhaps ever. While on loan with the club last year, Lukaku scored 16 goals in 31 appearances, more or less scoring in every other match.
Martinez even went on to name Lukaku’s signing as “not just important for this season. [But] a significant day in the history of this football club.” And it’s true, it wasn’t inasmuch that Everton chose Lukaku, it was more that Lukaku choose Everton that makes this such a historic day for the Merseyside club.
If they perform like they did last year and clinch a UEFA Champion’s League berth for next season, Lukaku will be expected to stay with Everton, who will also be attracting the likes of Europe’s other star footballers. In a day and age where money talks and all else walks, Everton’s dishing out the cash for Lukaku is where the money talks, and where all else walks — or runs rather, is where that money spent should become money well spent, and that can only be displayed on the pitch. With 2013 FA Cup Winner Martinez at the helm, it wouldn’t seem so impulsive to foresee Everton winning a trophy this season. Finishing top of the league may still be somewhat of a long shot, but with Everton in three cups, they shouldn’t be written off.