By Emma Sanders

Ronald Koeman has said the club “understands” Romelu Lukaku “likes to stay” at Everton amid speculation regarding his future.

Earlier this week, reports claimed Lukaku is set to sign at extended deal with the club but it could still see him leave in the summer.

The 23-year-old is one of the club’s best players and if he leaves, it would be a major blow to Koeman and his side so their priority ahead of the January transfer window is to keep him at Everton.

Koeman admitted he is a “big part” of the future of the club and the Blues are aware he may be tempted to leave the club, though they are confident he will sign a new deal before January.

The Guardian reports that Lukaku’s agent Mino Raiola has said that the deal is “99.9% agreed” but that things could change in the summer.

“It’s a big deal because the club is showing it wants to keep its best players and doing everything to do that. It’s an understanding that the boy likes to stay,” said Koeman, as quoted by the Guardian.

“He’s a big part of our future. We know what can happen but that’s football in general.”

Already this season, Lukaku has scored nine goals in 16 league appearances and remains one of the most consistent goal-scorers in the Premier League.

Only Alexis Sanchez, Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have a better goal-scoring record in the English top flight so far in 2016-17.

Everton currently sit in 9th position in the Premier League after suffering a late 1-0 defeat against Liverpool Monday evening’s Merseyside derby and they will need to keep hold of Lukaku if they hope to secure a European spot.

In other Everton news, this Sky Sports pundit claims Lukaku is bigger than the club.