Romelu Lukaku has acknowledged he may have to leave Chelsea permanently to further his own career as the Belgium international looks to showcase his talents at the World Cup finals in a bid to drum up further interest in his signature.
The forward, signed from Anderlecht in the summer of 2011 for an initial £8m, has spent the last two seasons impressing on loan at West Bromwich Albion and Everton. He scored 16 goals for the Merseysiders last term as they finished fifth and qualified for the Europa League, but the 21-year-old still only boasts a solitary start for his parent club in the Premier League having failed to secure regular football under three permanent managers.
He had watched dismayed as the Londoners secured Samuel Eto’o towards the end of the transfer window last summer, the Cameroonian veteran bought on a one-year deal to compete with Fernando Torres and Demba Ba for a starting place, and that sense he was low down the pecking order had prompted him to seek a loan move away. Yet the club’s current pursuit of Diego Costa – they are hopeful a £32m deal can be pushed through with Atlético Madrid for the Spain forward ahead of the World Cup – has served as a reminder that his opportunities may be just as limited next season.
“You know Chelsea: every year they buy a new top striker,” said Lukaku. “I remember me coming into the dressing room last year and seeing Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba and going: ‘Whoah! What’s happening here?’ But no problem. Many clubs are interested in me.
“At this stage I have to look to myself. I have to play a good World Cup. That’s very interesting for all the players looking for a transfer, and I must be one of them. Chelsea know my point of view.”
There remains the possibility Atlético could seek to secure the Belgian, who would be available for around £20m, as a replacement for Costa although Juventus and English clubs – primarily Everton and Tottenham Hotspur – would compete for his signature.
Chelsea’s bid for the Brazilian-born forward triggered the buy-out clause in Costa’s contract, and the player himself has informed the Spanish league winners that he wishes to leave. Atletico have secured the Granada left-back Guilherme Siqueira for £8.1m, which should pave the way for Filipe Luís also to move to Chelsea as Ashley Cole’s replacement, while the Londoners are also seeking to bring Cesc Fábregas back to England from Barcelona for around £30m. The Catalan club have signed Ivan Rakitic from Sevilla for £16.2m and also hope to secure Koke from Atlético.