By North-west correspondent Alex Stevens
Romelu Lukaku has delivered a blow to Everton by making clear his ambition to play in the Champions League next season.
The Belgium international says the “next step” in his career path is to perform in Europe’s leading club competition.
Lukaku, who is currently away on international duty with Belgium, has scored 25 goals in 37 games for the Merseysiders this season, including 18 in 29 Premier League matches.
With Everton 13 points adrift of a top-four finish, Lukaku’s interview with Sky Sports News will be interpreted as a clear come-and-get-me plea.
“That is the next step for me,” the striker said. “I’m 23 next summer and I think it would be nice to play in the Champions League from next season.”
Everton’s £28million record signing is in his third season at Goodison Park and, since arriving in English football in an £18million move to Chelsea from Anderlecht in 2009, has scored a highly impressive 78 goals in 156 club matches.
His dad, a former professional goalkeeper, has suggested his son should move to Bayern Munich or Manchester United, but Lukaku said: “That is my dad’s point of view; I think those are the teams he likes. It means people are keeping an eye on you.
“I have an agent who is dealing with this for me at the moment. I just want to be good, help my team-mates win games and score lots of goals.”
He has also been linked with a return to Chelsea but ruled out the possibility of returning to the west London club.
“I don’t think I have anything to prove against them,” he said. “I moved on, they moved on.
“It was the best deal for both teams because they won the league and I became a better player so we will see what the future brings.”