Photo credit: Associated Press
When the referee blew his whistle for the final time today at the Estadio Nacional, it marked not only the end of Belgium’s World Cup, but also the unofficial start of Everton’s transfer window.
As has been well-documented by nearly everyone, Everton’s primary objective this summer is to secure Romelu Lukaku’s services on a permanent basis. While Roberto Martinez – who, incidentally, is also on his way back from Brazil following today’s proceedings – has several contingency plans in place, the club seem content to not act on any of them until Lukaku’s status is clear. The striker has maintained that he would resolve his club future while Belgium were still in the competition. Nothing was ever going to happen before this point.
What happens next is anyone’s guess, but a reasonable bet suggests business will push forward rather quickly. For one, Everton begin training in Austria next week. For another, it benefits all parties to not let this saga drag on too long.
Everyone recognizes that something must be done. Chelsea have at last finalized their deal with Atletico Madrid for Diego Costa, and Lukaku only has two years remaining on his contract. It would be foolish for Chelsea to let that run down any further, especially when Lukaku is apt to make it known he is unhappy playing understudy to Costa.
Whether Everton, and Martinez, can convince Lukaku to come will be another matter. Rumors suggest their primary competition, the aforementioned Atletico, have taken themselves out of the running by snapping up Mario Mandzukic from Bayern Munich. If those reports are confirmed, Everton would be firmly in the driver’s seat, but still lacking the key ingredient: Champions League football. After a subpar World Cup, will Lukaku exhibit enough patience with his career trajectory to be part of what Martinez is building?
It may be worth mentioning that just because Martinez and Lukaku have wrapped up their activities in Brazil does not mean Evertonians should expect a flurry of signings. Martinez took a special interest in Holland’s training during his time as an analyst for ESPN, and there’s enough smoke to believe a primary target or two could still be left behind in South America.