“What are Everton gonna do when all their loan players go back”….
Last night Everton completed a deal to bring Romelu Lukaku back to the Club in a record-breaking £28 million signing that has sent out shock waves within our fan base and the rest of the Premier League. After much speculation this summer, the Blues eventually announced the news that the Belgian striker would be returning to Merseyside on a permanent basis and the former Chelsea man had put pen to paper on a five-year deal. The 21-year-old becomes Roberto Martinez’ third summer signing, following Gareth Barry and Mo Besic through the door at Finch Farm, as the Blues boss continues to bolster his squad ahead of the new season.
Both Barry and Lukaku had successful loan spells at Goodison Park last season and to see them both return to the Club is fantastic – they were two key figures in our good work during the last campaign and the news that they are both now officially Everton players has got everyone buzzing, just as the addition of Besic has too. Additions were essential this summer, and although we have had to be patient we are now seeing the squad take shape as Martinez continues his recruitment drive as we approach the 2014-15 Premier League campaign.
On Tuesday of this week, Muhammed Besic was officially unveiled as an Everton player and this unveiling turned out to be just the start of what were a memorable and historic 48 hours for Everton Football Club and our fans. Besic signed in from Ferencvaros for a fee believed to be £4 million and the 21-year-old spoke of his admiration for Martinez, whom he says played a key part in his decision to move to England. The Bosnian had an impressive World Cup for his country and Martinez has monitored his progress for some time, and Evertonians are set to see their first glimpse of Besic in royal blue during Leon Osman’s testimonial this Sunday at Goodison Park.
A little later in the day on Tuesday, Ross Barkley penned a new four-year deal at Everton, following our manager and some of his team mates in being tied down to new deals this summer. When the press conference was called on Tuesday, many speculated as to what the ‘significant announcement’ would be; some said new players were to be unveiled, others guessed at new stadium plans, and some suggested it would be news of a Barkley contract. As it turned out it was the latter, and although us Evertonians were thirsty to see new faces arrive, Ross signing a new deal was brilliant news and he obviously loves playing for his boyhood team. He is emerging as one of the modern-day game’s finest talents, and to have him at the forefront of our new-look side is something I am very grateful for. Fantastic news indeed.
If Tuesday’s events had Evertonians excited and in good spirits, then what was to follow on Wednesday had us jumping through hoops…
Around lunch time yesterday Romelu Lukaku Tweeted a picture of himself on a plane and said ‘time to start a new chapter’. Cue Evertonian meltdown. The excitement, joy and nervousness spiralled out of control from that moment onwards as Lukaku travelled to Merseyside on a private jet to tie up a deal at Finch Farm. Belgian reporters confirmed that the deal was in place – as did the Liverpool Echo – but until we actually saw Lukaku back in royal blue I don’t think many Evertonians felt relaxed or convinced. Eventually, after nearly a two-hour delayed press conference, Lukaku was confirmed as an official Everton player and unveiled in front of a packed media room last night.
From a personal point of view when the news was finally confirmed I felt delighted, overwhelmed – almost in a state of shock! – But I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt a feeling that I’ve never felt before, and it was incredible. I’d not seen anything like this. In my time, our only ever ‘major money’ moves have been Fellaini, Bily or the Yak, but mostly us selling our prize assets for a hefty fee. This is obviously our record transfer fee but to me what is more significant is how much this signing signals our ambition. In fact the last two days have sent out a huge positive message, and as an Evertonian we are all part of it. We all have our own views on the Club’s finances and Board, but whatever your thoughts are on them you have to give them credit for pulling out all of the stops and making this Lukaku deal happen. This sends out the right message, whereas in previous transfer windows we have always ‘just had to make do’ we are now showing that we mean business, we want to compete with the best and sign the best. Martinez has already done so much in such a little time and this summer he is again proving his ambition for this Football Club and I am loving every minute of it. Romelu Lukaku hit 16 goals in 33 appearances for Everton last season and although the striker’s form did dip once or twice, you have to realise that this will always happen with footballers – even the very best. Rom is a powerhouse and someone we have been crying out for in our attack, he strikes fear into defenders and can score with both feet, in the air, he has pace, unreal strength and dominates the opposition. On his day he can look world-class, and looking around Europe he is one of the most promising strikers around. I feel honoured that we have signed him, and the fact that Everton have made this happen has made me feel incredibly proud.
The Club also deserve praise for the way in which they are handling Ross Barkley’s development and he is in the best possible hands to continue to progress. Barkley needs to focus on Everton and now that he has signed a new deal, hopefully the transfer window distractions will quieten down, for a while. Ross has got the world at his feet and he has the qualities to fire Everton to something memorable this season and in the future and he needs to continue to develop as he is now and keep his head and feet down. The prospect of seeing Ross link up with Lukaku again this season and beyond is mouth-watering.
What excites me even more is that Lukaku, Barry and Besic probably won’t be the last incoming players at Everton and it certainly looks like we won’t be losing anyone. Hibbert has signed a new deal, and he and the other experienced lads like Osman, Pienaar, Alcaraz and Distin will all play their respective parts this season. Nobody wants to leave, and everyone will get their chance. Evertonians might pick their favourite starting XI’s with Mirallas, Barkley, Besic and Lukaku all at the forefront, but let’s not forget Kone, McGeady, Naismith, Darron Gibson, Oviedo plus the young lads coming through. These are exciting times at Goodison Park and the squad is well and truly taking shape ahead of what will be a gruelling campaign both domestically and in Europe. John Stones is 20, Ross Barkley 21, Romelu Lukaku 21 too, Mo Besic also 21 and others like McCarthy who is just 23 and Oviedo that age too. Everton’s Manager knows the importance of breeding youth, but also keeping that mixture of ages and talents too. We have players returning from injury and will no doubt look to further strengthen with a few loans, so overall the squad is looking healthy and this time around the spine of the team all belong to Everton. It must be great to be a part of that squad and the confidence from within is evident to all. Lukaku says he knew he would come back to Everton and reading his quotes last night just added to my joy at his return..
“I’m very pleased – it’s a big honour to play at such a wonderful club, with the manager and the players. This is the place where I belong. I had lots of options but I wanted to stay in the Premier League and I decided very quickly that I wanted to come back here. I’m 21 years of age and this is a good step for me – I need to play at a high level and in a good team. “It felt right and here I feel like I have the confidence of the whole technical staff and the supporters – people who will help me develop. These are all good things to become a better player. Last year was a very good year and I had a feeling this was the best place to grow as a young man and a footballer, so I’m very pleased to be here again and to help my teammates to reach the heights“.
Romelu Lukaku (30-07-2014).
Look at what Martinez is doing at Everton, he is building, and the foundations are well and truly set. The blend is getting even better and more exciting, the enthusiasm and desire is ever-increasing within the players, the staff and never more so within our support.
There is no denying that Lukaku’s addition is massive and over the last couple of days I have been taken aback by the events that have taken place. The Club really have showed their ambition, which has been along time coming, and together with Martinez’ plans for Everton FC the possibilities are endless, it certainly has been great to see as a fan of this Club and is without doubt a huge statement of intent.
Up the Toffees!