By Harry Sykes
Ronald Koeman has insisted that Romelu Lukaku will “stay” at Everton and spearhead their attack again next season.
The Goodison Park manager delivered the news that every fan of the club will want to hear amid speculation he could be set for a mega-money summer exit.
Sky Sports Italy transfer expert Gianluca Di Marzio claimed on his personal website on Wednesday that the Merseysiders will start negotiating the sale of the striker with Chelsea by the end of this week.
It was reported that initial talks have already taken place between Lukaku’s representatives and Chelsea, who have identified the Belgian as their top target to replace China-bound Diego Costa.
But Koeman’s public stance is that he fully expects his club’s prize asset to be wearing an Everton jersey againsnext season.
“I expect that Lukaku will stay because until now I did not hear anything from the board that one club is asking about Lukaku,” said Koeman, as quoted by the Telegraph.
“You like to keep your best striker, your top scorer, but we also need around that position more productivity.”
Lukaku has demonstrated his value while at Everton, scoring 86 goals in 165 matches and maintaining his prolific form this season despite the speculation swirling around his future.
His tally of 24 Premier League goals from 36 matches this season puts him second only to Harry Kane, whose four-goal salvo against Leicester on Thursday night lifted him to 26 league strikes for the campaign.
Lukaku recently told the club that he would not sign a new contract and, with his current deal to expire in the summer of 2019, there is a suspicion that Koeman’s side will have little option but to cash in if the player pushes strongly for a move.
Di Marzio explains that talks are set to take place directly between officials of Everton and Chelsea, and it is likely that an agreement will be struck at around £70million.
In other Everton transfer news, the club will now turn their sights to a new striker target available at a bargain price after missing out on Ramirez.