Romelu Lukaku is a striker who has consistently divided opinion throughout his career but there is no doubt that Everton’s decision to sign him for £28 million in July 2014 remains their best of the Premier League era.
For plenty of football supporters Lukaku is a player who flatters to deceive and is punching above his weight at Manchester United, but his record speaks for itself. The Belgian powerhouse was tipped for stardom when he arrived at Chelsea in 2011 but like many others before and after him he failed to break into the first-team at Stamford Bridge.
A season-long loan spell at West Bromwich Albion during the 2012/13 campaign in which Lukaku bagged 17 goals and provided 7 assists wasn’t enough to convince the powers that be at Chelsea that he was good enough for the Blues, and he was shipped out to Everton at the end of the season on another season-long loan.
If Everton didn’t have enough reason to sign him permanently in 2013 then they certainly did by the end of his temporary spell; he continued to showcase his enormous talent in the 2013/14 season by notching 15 goals from 33 Premier League appearances, including a brace in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.
The commanding physical presence combined power, pace and agility to terrorise defenders inside the final-third and, combined with his natural poachers instinct, it was impossible for the Toffees to turn down the opportunity to sign Lukaku in a bargain £28 million deal on the 30th July 2014.
And what a decision that proved out to be: Lukaku’s goal-scoring return improved with every passing season and his reputation culminated when, at just 23-years-of-age, he became the club’s all-time leading scorer in the Premier League with a consolation strike against Tottenham Hotspur.
Lukaku ended the season with 25 Premier League goals and 6 assists from 37 appearances, earning himself the opportunity to make his mark on the European stage with a £75 million switch to Manchester United.
His departure was certainly disappointing for the vast majority of the Everton supporters, but there was a feeling that the club did exceptionally well to command such an extortionate fee for a striker who is far from flawless.
The club ultimately made a whopping £47 million profit on their star striker just 3 years after bringing him to Goodison Park and, taking the financial gain into consideration alongside his prolific record in-front of goal, it’s fair to say that Lukaku stands out as Everton’s best signing of the Premier League era.
The bargain acquisition of Tim Cahil in 2004 proved to be a masterstroke for the club and in the years to come Richarlison may force his extensive contingent of doubters to eat their words, but he would need to enjoy an extraordinary stint on Merseyside to emulate Lukaku.
Sure, Lukaku may not have convinced every Everton supporter of his quality despite his unprecedented achievements with the club, but even his strongest critics would be forced to admit that his 2014 transfer was the club’s shrewdest since the Premier League began.
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