EPL: Win-win situation

EPL: Win-win situation
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: Romelu Lukaku (right) has the chance to cement his status as a world-class centre forward at Everton.

If ever there was a deal that worked for everyone, it is the transfer of Romelu Lukaku.

Everton now have a striker who, just three years ago, was touted as the most promising of his kind on the planet.

Lukaku now has a team prepared to give him the first-team football he craves.

Chelsea now have £28m ($58.9m), a crucial contribution to their battle against the forces of Uefa's financial fair play initiative.

Everyone here is a winner.

Jose Mourinho has already moved to allay the fears of Chelsea supporters, claiming that Lukaku lacked the right mentality to play for a leading club.

There had certainly been suggestions over the past year that Lukaku had been speaking out of turn while on loan at Goodison Park, irritating not only Mourinho, but senior figures in the boardroom.

FIRST-CHOICE STRIKER

His alleged demand to be named as first-choice striker upon his return to Stamford Bridge was received with a similarly cold reaction.

Chelsea have Diego Costa and a still effective Didier Drogba.

Mourinho's view is that, frankly, they don't need Lukaku. What they do need is cash to offset their investments elsewhere.

They have already seen how Uefa have acted to restrain Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

This deal will reduce the chances of facing a similar fate.

And it's not as if Mourinho's judgment can be called into question.

At Real Madrid, he faced down the wrath of the club's boardroom, dressing room, support and press corps when he dropped and marginalised Iker Casillas.

And yet the Spanish goalkeeper's performance in the Champions League Final and the World Cup Finals appear to vindicate the decision.

Juan Mata was twice supporters' player of the year at Chelsea, a popular figure with the players and a media-friendly face for the club.

Mourinho shipped him out to a rival club without a second glance.

The situation may change at some point, but so far, Mata has done little to prove his old manager wrong.

Lukaku was expected to make his name this summer on the biggest stage of all, but his performances in Belgium's first two group games at the World Cup were so poor that he lost his place in the team and was unable to wrestle it back.

His high point, a bombastic cameo from the bench against an exhausted United States in the Round of 16, was too little, too late.

At his best, Lukaku is unplayable.

He proved to be "unplayable" in Brazil as well, but in a very different way.

It just seemed safer to play someone else.

And yet this is hardly the sort of thing that should worry Everton.

Clubs outside of the Champions League don't get the chance to secure players of Lukaku's quality very often.

As it stands, he is a forward of great potential.

If he develops, and given the way that James McCarthy and John Stones have pushed on under Roberto Martinez, there's every chance that he could be Everton's first world-class outfield player since Gary Lineker in 1986.

ALMOST IRRELEVANT

The fee is almost irrelevant.

Given the vast rewards for just staying in the top half of the Premier League, never mind the Champions League, you could make a good argument that it would have been more expensive not to sign him.

When West Bromwich Albion lost Lukaku after a single season, they slipped from 8th to 17th.

Unless Ronaldo Koeman reinvests wisely, Southampton will provide this season's example of what happens to good teams who fail to retain their stars.

As Lukaku said on social media, this is the start of a new chapter.

At 21, he is no longer just a teenage prodigy from the European backwaters.

He has the stage, he has the price tag, he has the faith.

Now he needs to stand up and prove that he was worthy of the hype.

After three difficult years at, or rather not at, Chelsea, you suspect that this is what he wanted all along.

Romelu was always clear that in his mentality and his approach that he was not highly motivated to come to a competitive situation at Chelsea. - Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho on Romelu Lukaku EPL


This article was first published on August 1, 2014.
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