Languishing in mid-table was not exactly what Everton had planned for this season. They may play an attractive brand of football and have a squad containing one of the best strikers in the Premier League, but they have struggled for consistency all campaign and find themselves under-achieving for a second consecutive year.
As a result of this, it seems that one of their biggest stars wants to jump ship. It’s hard to blame Romelu Lukaku for wanting to secure a move to a side that can offer him Champions League football after spending three seasons at Goodison Park. Despite all of his goals during his time on Merseyside, Everton actually seem to have slightly regressed and it is understandable that a player of his calibre wants to have a crack at Europe's premier competition.
The Belgian marksman has been linked with the linked with a host of Europe’s top sides, including Manchester United, Chelsea, Juventus, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, so it seems unlikely that he will remain at Goodison Park beyond the summer. With the Toffees likely to extract a significant fee for their talisman, here are five potential replacements.
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Not the most illustrious name on this list, but Odion Ighalo has proven he has the ability to bang them in against Premier League sides. He began life at Watford in the Championship last season and scored three goals in his first 18 games as he struggled to adapt to life in England, but halfway through the campaign he started to fire on all cylinders and since then he has never looked back.
He has maintained his strike rate of almost a goal every other game even after the step up to the Premier League and has arguably outshone strike partner Troy Deeney this year. It remains to be seen as to whether Watford could be persuaded to part with their star man, but the step up to Everton is likely one that the striker would not refuse.
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Of course, with Benteke being a Liverpool player this transfer is not one that would come without slight controversy. But then again the Belgian has only been at Liverpool for a solitary underwhelming season and not too many Reds fans would be devastated to see him leave the club. With Liverpool looking to offload him, he should be available for around £20 million.
After an impressive spell with Aston Villa Liverpool were persuaded into shelling out as much as £32.5 million on the striker, but with only eight goals in all competitions over the course of the campaign and a fall out with boss Jurgen Klopp, he will invariably be sold. He has proved that when placed in a side where he is the main focus of attack he will score goals and isn’t too dissimilar to Lukaku in his style of play. If Everton are wanting to replace Lukaku with a Lukaku mark II, then Benteke is definitely their man.
Like Benteke, Wilfried Bony was an expensive transfer from a smaller side that hasn’t quite worked out. The Ivorian was lethal at Swansea, but has always been in the shadow of Sergio Aguero at Manchester City and has failed to hit his previous heights following a move to the Etihad stadium. He has only managed eight goals all season and City may look to sell him on this summer to recoup as much of the £28 million outlay as they can get.
Bony seems to be a player that needs to be played week-in-week-out to get the best out of him and will look to move to a club that can guarantee him this sort of time on the pitch. If the Toffees ship Lukaku out then Bony may be the ideal replacement. He is quick, insanely strong and has an eye for goal. In his first and final full season with Swansea he managed 25 goals across all competitions and could be the perfect replacement if Lukaku does leave over the summer.
After impressing hugely this campaign with Marseille, 22-year-old Michy Batshuayi is attracting interest from all around Europe. In the Premier League, he has been most heavily linked with Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham, but if Everton sell Lukaku then they will have enough funds to join the chase for the forward. The forward has scored 17 goals in all competitions this season and at the age of 22 still has plenty of time to improve.
Signing the Belgian would represent something more of a risk when compared to some of the more experienced, established names on this list but with his value only set to increase over time, he could prove to be more of a sound investment.
Saido Berahino’s time at West Brom has been marred by controversy, but the forward is still a player who has the ability to shine at the highest level of the game. Following a stellar campaign last season, he was linked with a move away from West Brom but the Baggies board rejected an approach from Tottenham, leading Berahino to claim that he would not play for the side again.
The fallout continued until after the January transfer window, and although things now seem to be sorted between club and player, he has been unable to recapture the scintillating form he displayed last year.
After a season spent essentially out in the wilderness, signing Berahino would represent a risk. Nevertheless, his transfer market value has invariably fallen since this time last year and Martinez would be able to sign him with plenty of change left over after selling Lukaku.