[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter an immensely successful campaign on loan at Everton last season, Romelu Lukaku’s club record signing in the summer was widely acknowledged as a stellar piece of business by the Merseyside club.
A young striker with all the attributes to become a world-beater and a proven goalscorer in the Premier League, the Belgian’s acquisition was seen by many as an indication that the Goodison Park outfit were ready to consistently challenge for Champions League football.
With young, ambitious manager Roberto Martínez bringing an attacking brand of football to the club previously unseen under the more pragmatic David Moyes, a number of bright young English talents coming through the ranks and Leighton Baines spurning the chance to move to Manchester United, Toffees fans were feeling a sense of excitement surrounding this term.
However, fast forward to the present day and the 2014-15 campaign has not gone how the Goodison Park faithful would have imagined, with Lukaku epitomising the disappointing season at the club.
The Belgium international has only shown his blistering pace, unrelenting power and eye for goal sporadically this season and looks like a fragment of the player that Everton splurged £28 million on.
Eight Premier League goals is a modest return for a player that promised (and cost) so much, while there is a feeling that Lukaku’s performances have not been up to scratch this term.
The whole team have failed to replicate last season’s expansive and fearless brand of football, while Lukaku’s lack of potency through the middle has seen Martínez even deploy the striker in a wide role to try and fix the problem.
Despite some good results in the Europa League, Everton fans will look to put this season behind them and start afresh next term, without European football to cloud their priorities and congest their fixture list.
However, perhaps the most worrying thing at the club currently has been Lukaku’s comments in the press, with it looking from the outside that the Belgian feels like he is too big for the club.
Earlier this year the 21-year-old told the media of his ambitions to ‘play for a bigger club’, while the striker has recently parted company with his long-serving agent, only to employ the outspoken Mino Raiola.
True to the representative’s track record, the Italian has stated to the Belgian media that had he been Lukaku’s agent in the summer, the centre forward would not have ended up at Goodison, but instead one of Europe’s top clubs.
Despite Martinez’s comments to the contrary, Lukaku and his agent’s soundbites will surely reach the rest of the Everton squad and have the potential to wreak havoc in the club.
Everton can feel lucky that they have a player of Lukaku’s potential on their books, but should not be held to ransom because he has become disillusioned at a collective poor season – of which he has failed to contribute consistently.
Had the Belgian netted 15 goals this season and shown his best form in a floundering Everton side, perhaps then he could feel aggrieved to some degree.
But the truth is that Lukaku has not looked like a player that should be angling for a move to one of Europe’s top teams and has been outperformed this season by Steven Naismith – a player that cost Everton precisely nothing.
Baines’ refusal to be dragged into media speculation over his future and commitment to the Everton cause is the polar opposite of how Lukaku has acted in his first nine months at the club, and the young Belgian would be advised to take a leaf out of his team-mate’s book in the future.
For Lukaku, doing his talking on the pitch would be the best course of action as his current stance threatens to see him ostracised by the Goodison Park faithful.
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