Everton last night finally signed Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku for a club-record fee of £28million (€35m).
The Belgium international, who spent last season on loan at Goodison Park and was their leading scorer with 16 goals in 33 appearances to help them finish fifth, has agreed a five-year contract.
Reports of the move began emerging in the 21-year-old’s homeland earlier yesterday and the striker tweeted a picture of himself on a plane with the message “Time to write a new chapter.....”.
Lukaku was manager Roberto Martinez’s primary summer transfer target and while the fee may have blown their previous record – £15million (18.9m) for Lukaku’s compatriot Marouane Fellaini when he moved from Standard Liege in 2008 – the Toffees boss believes the striker’s age and potential mean it was worth paying.
Lukaku said: “I am really excited about rejoining Everton. I had a fantastic experience last season and a great relationship with the manager, the chairman, the staff, the players and the fans. I can’t wait to get started again and I’m looking forward to a successful season. I don’t have hard feelings against Chelsea. They gave me the opportunity to come to England and gave me high hopes of playing football,” he added.
“I trained with world-class players and worked under world-class managers and without them I wouldn’t be here.But last year was a very good year and after a short period of time I had the feeling it was the best place to grow as a young footballer.
“I have a very good relationship with the players and staff so for me this is the place where I belong.”
Martinez added: “Welcoming Romelu Lukaku back to Everton on a permanent basis is the news that all Evertonians wanted to hear.
“We know Romelu is still a young man and the potential he has is quite unique, and we are desperate to see him enjoying his football and to watch him grow as footballer in the years to come.
“The arrival of Rom is more than just a signing, it’s the fruition of a lot of hard work to get the player we wanted. This is a big moment for Everton’s history and the perfect way of getting the squad ready for the season.”
Lukaku, who will wear the number 10 shirt, will now return home to Belgium for the next few days but will be back at Goodison Park on Sunday ahead of Leon Osman’s testimonial.
The news follows Everton’s summer signings of Gareth Barry and Muhamed Besic, as well as the contract extensions signed by Roberto Martinez, Ross Barkley and Seamus Coleman.
Meanwhile, West Ham United boss Sam Allardyce is hoping to wrap up a loan deal for Arsenal defender Carl Jenkinson ‘in the next 24 hours’.
With Arsenal having drafted in Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers to cover the loss of Bacary Sagna to Manchester City at the end of his contract, 22-year-old Jenkinson remains some way down the Emirates Stadium pecking order.
A loan switch would allow him to get useful minutes under his belt, and there has been no shortage of Premier League interest.
Allardyce believes they are poised to complete the deal that shows the club are heading in a new direction.
“We’ve been interested in these last couple of days in signing Carl Jenkinson on loan from Arsenal and I hope it’s going to be completed in the next 24 hours, so we hope that’s going to be okay.”
Elsewhere, QPR are stepping up their pursuit of Ajax striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, and Norwich City midfielder Leroy Fer.
Rangers, who recently completed the signing of defensive duo Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker, are in discussion with both clubs as Harry Redknapp look to further strengthen his squad ahead of the forthcoming Premier League season.
“He’s a player we like but I don’t know where that one is at the moment,” said manager Harry Redknapp.
“It’s been ongoing for a while but there are other people as well that we are looking at. I think we need a couple of midfield players and we have got other targets we are looking at.”
Meanwhile, Southampton last night signed Chelsea left-back Ryan Bertrand on a season-long loan.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved