The news had already broken. Lukaku had told Everton that he wasn’t signing their latest contract offering, and we were now digesting the rumour that an interview was about to be released where he firmly and publicly stated his desire to bugger off…
The opinions rolled up our throats like acid reflux. We should drop him. Let him rot in the reserves. He’s being disrespectful. He should shut his mouth. He should be fined. He should play. He should be sold. He should be kept.
All this was decided before we’d actually read a word from the interview…
When it did drop, it felt weird. I couldn’t get angry, despite the efforts of multiple outraged headlines. Lots of what he said actually made sense… He was ambitious, like us.
Wait… So that was the bombshell Lukaku interview!? https://t.co/fNM2bTrc3v
— Ed (@dixiessixty) March 15, 2017
“Everton as a football club has a great history. But the future has to be written. You get me? Because we always talk about the teams of the 80s and 70s, and if you look it was great. But we as players, we want the fans talking about us instead of us talking about them.
“You want to be remembered as well. No matter where you play you want to be remembered. You cannot only be remembered by scoring goals, you want to be remembered by winning trophies.
“That is what the fans want. So instead of living in the past, you have to think ahead. How this club has to grow, how this club has to improve, which player does it want to bring in so you can challenge for the big trophies?”
Not that this is to say that he’ll stay, but things definitely seem less fraught than they could have been. If he is sold, it’s glaringly obvious that he’ll be missed. He’s the top scorer in the Premier League, anyone would miss him. But now there’s an extra layer of confidence among the fans…
We’ve spent most of my life looking for someone who could score like Lukaku, and now he could leave. Why aren’t we climbing up the walls with itchy paranoia? Or sat in a corner, silently rocking and weeping on our kneecaps?
Everton have been subsistence transfer farming for so long – scratching around for players that’ll do – that I forgot that we’re not like that any more.
The ghosts of failed transfers like Muller, Manny Fernandes, Ravanelli no longer traipse through the Goodison hallways wailing and rattling their chains.
The creeping fear of tracking the wrong Lear jet and seeing it not head to Merseyside (Rom’s going back to Chelsea!), of wondering why Jelavic had to go back to his hotel (he’s had a change of heart!), isn’t here either.
And gone are the days of needing Bill’s silver tongue or Moyes’ penny pinching any more. We’re not worried about Arteta money, or borrowed money from far flung islands, we have Moshiri’s money.
Cool Hand Luk
Lukaku will make his decision with a cool head. He hasn’t definitively said he’s leaving, and likewise he isn’t pledging fealty to Everton for the next decade. Rom likes playing for Everton, and his current manager has him scoring at a rate he’s never been able to do before. He’s waiting to see… And there’s little doubt he is being offered near constant counsel by his agent, Mino Raiola.
In fact, Rom’s words at the Kick it Out event sounded like they came straight from Raiola’s mouth.
According to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s autobiography, when he was at Ajax he decided that he needed a new agent. He ended up meeting with a hyper intelligent, avaricious tubby ball of ambition called Mino.
What’s telling is that when Mino and Zlatan met, it was Raiola calling the shots. He ended their first meeting by ordering Zlatan to score more goals, complaining that he couldn’t sell him unless he got better…
“Do you know what he did next, that cocky bastard? He took out four pages of A4 paper he’d printed off the Internet. They had a bunch of names and numbers on them, like Christian Vieri: 27 matches, 24 goals; Filippo Inzaghi: 25 matches, 20 goals; David Trezeguet, 24 matches 20 goals; and, finally, Zlatan Ibrahimovic: 25 matches, 5 goals.
‘You think I’m going to be able to sell you with statistics like these,’ he said, and I thought, What is this, some kind of attack?
I retaliated. ‘If I’d scored twenty goals, even my mother could have sold me,’ and silenced him. He wanted to laugh, I know that now. But he carried on with his game. He didn’t want to lose the upper hand.
‘You are right. But you–‘
Now what? I thought. It felt like there was another attack coming.
‘You think you’re pretty great, huh?’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘You think I’m going to be impressed by your watch, your jacket, your Porsche. But I’m not. Not at all. I just think it’s ridiculous.’
‘Do you want to become the best in the world? Or the one who earns the most and can swan around in this kind of gear?’
‘Best in the world!’
‘Good. Because if you become the best in the world, you’ll get the other stuff, too. But if you just want the money you won’t end up with anything, you get that?’
‘I get it.’
The big fear is that Lukaku gets it too. That his obvious ambition, stoked by his agent, takes him elsewhere. And unlike Zlatan at Ajax, Lukaku is scoring for fun – instead of having to find a buyer, interested parties will come to Raiola.
‘Romelu Lukaku’s agent Mino Raiola and Ed Woodward pictured at Manchester United team hotel ahead of Rostov Europa League clash’
I’ve heard the arguments about why he should go. Mike Calvin’s said that he’s a “transfer waiting to happen”. The Daily Mail have worked themselves into a frenzy over the fact that Raiola, the agent of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, was spotted at a United team hotel… Soon, a host of newspapers were breathlessly reporting this meeting between Lukaku’s agent and Man Utd.
As Football365’s Mediawatch says, “The key to a good transfer story is wilful ignorance. Cold, hard facts often have to be overlooked in the search for clicks. To purposefully mislead the audience is an accepted method in the modern day.”
Transfers make the newspaper world go round and red top journalists stay hard. It’s completely possible that Lukaku will leave. I also think he could stay.
Koeman is forthright, and often very uncomplicated. The Lukaku situation isn’t complicated. Koeman wants to keep Lukaku but he’ll sell him if he wants to leave or doesn’t sign in time.
Either way, let’s keep some perspective, we have a team doing well in the league, we’re packed to the rafters with young talent, we could have a new stadium announced any day now (Thursday perhaps?), and this below is what used to pass for good news…
The good news is Lars Jacobsen and Leon Osman are fully fit again and start. Hibbo is on the bench. Come on you Blues!!!
— Everton (@Everton) May 16, 2009
Premier League: Saturday 12 Aug (TBC); Stoke City at Goodison
Saturday 19 Aug (TBC); Manchester City at Etihad Stadium