Everton football club have been so immersed in sorting out the contract situation of striker Romelu Lukaku and playmaker Ross Barkley, that their brilliant Premier League performance has been largely ignored.
The Toffees have been breathtaking under new manager Ronald Koeman in the second half of the season, which might just be enough for the Merseyside club to book a Europa League spot for the next season. And not having two of their star players then, could be devastating for the club. Everton have shown enough ambition this season bringing in Morgan Schneiderlin last winter, however, it doesn’t seem to have satisfied the ambitious lot.
Lukaku’s contract situation at the club has dragged on too long, in the past few seasons, with the Belgian striker looking to leave Goodison Park on many occasions. And things exacerbated when he blatantly refused to sign a new contract in a post-match interview. This was after Lukaku’s agent was 99.999 percent sure of his man agreeing to stay with the club. It was shortly followed by reports of Barkley stalling his contract extension as he would like to explore his options.
With the season coming to an end, Koeman will definitely have an eye for a replacement in case the club fails to negotiate with the players. Everton’s scenario has been increasingly similar to that of West Ham United previous season, who had finished strongly in the league and then went on a transfer disaster. Everton are expected learn to from their mistakes and they should go into the transfer market being aware of their stature in European football and future uncertainties.
Rather than going for the highly-rated elite stars, tracking a consistent scorer would be prudent, and Serie A forward Dries Mertens looks to fit the bill quite perfectly for Koeman. The Belgian striker has been one of the rising stars of the Italian league this season, scoring a brilliant 25 goals and 6 assists in all competitions for Napoli till now. His performances even led him to overtake Chelsea star Eden Hazard for the Belgian Player of the Year vote back in December.
The 29-year-old has been a bit of a late bloomer. He had to spend numerous stints before hitting the right spot. The youth product of Belgian side Anderlecht, Mertens played for clubs like Gent, SC Eendracht Aalst, SC Eendracht Aalst, FC Utrecht and PSV Eindhoven before arriving at Napoli back in 2013.
Landing him, however, won’t be an easy by any means for Everton as clubs like Manchester United and Arsenal are also keeping tabs on his situation.
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