Chelsea are ready to offer Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku a new deal, which would include a loan option, as the Blues believe another year on loan could boost the player's transfer value ahead of a sale next season, according to reports.
The Independent's Ian Herbert believes Lukaku's time at Chelsea could be up following the team's acquisition of Diego Costa, while Everton could make their move for the player as early as this summer:
Lukaku's prospects at Stamford Bridge will recede even further when the west London side move for Atletico Madrid's Diego Costa this summer. But they are understood to believe that another strong loan season for the Belgian striker – he scored 15 goals in 31 games for Everton in this campaign – could enable them to make a healthy profit on the £18m they paid Anderlecht for him three years ago.
Everton, though, are understood to be ready to use their entire summer transfer budget if Lukaku becomes available and believe they would have to pay £20m to get the player.
However, taking Lukaku on loan for another season would be the ideal option for Everton manager Roberto Martinez, because he needs to bring in three or four reinforcements in the summer to enable the club to combine the Premier League and Europa League next season.
Opinions on the youngster's future at Stamford Bridge are divided, with several pundits, including Bleacher Report's Garry Hayes, calling for the club to cut ties with the Belgian international.
I respectfully disagree. Moving Lukaku on a permanent basis wouldn't just be a mistake—it would be a mistake of epic proportions, the kind of short-sighted move fans of rival clubs will use to make fun of the Blues for years.
And yes, I have no qualms making the comparison between Henry, an absolute Premier League legend, and Lukaku, whose EPL experience spans only three seasons.
When people claim Lukaku has "looked mediocre" or "underperformed" when playing for Chelsea, they're forgetting the Belgian international is 21 years old. Last season he became the highest-scoring teen in the Premier League in the last 14 years, per the Daily Mail's Sunni Upal.
This season, according to WhoScored.com, he scored 15 league goals in 29 starts, leading the front line of a young, inexperienced Everton team.
Could you imagine what he could be capable of with the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian feeding him the ball and setting up chances for him?
Actually, you could. Lukaku plays with Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Dries Mertens and a bunch of other talented wingers and midfielder for the Belgian Red Devils, and his production there hasn't always been of the highest standard.
But here's the thing—he's 21. I know we already touched on that, but I feel like I can't stress this enough. How many 21-year-olds score double-digit goals in their first two seasons in the Premier League?
Lukaku has traits that simply can't be taught. He's big, he's ridiculously fast for his size, he's strong both on the ball and in the air, and he has the kind of technical ability a man his size shouldn't have.
His main weaknesses are an over-eagerness to drift out wide and inconsistency, both classic examples of things that improve as a player gains experience. Lukaku has already improved in both aspects, but there's much still to learn.
And that's the whole point. Chelsea bought Lukaku in 2011 because he was the most physically talented player in the world, and three years later, he still is. So naturally, the logical next step would be to sell him.
Why would Lukaku and Costa not be able to coexist? There are Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup matches to be played. Is it really that hard to believe Jose Mourinho would find him 10 matches to start?
One has to assume the player would wish to avoid a third straight loan spell, instead preferring to get his chance to prove himself at his parent club. And that's a chance he should receive.
Mourinho is many things, but he's not an idiot. He's not vindictive enough to deny Lukaku the chance to show the world what he could do at Chelsea, and he's not going to refuse to play a striker who might actually win him matches.
Selling one of the world's most gifted young players is counterproductive in every way imaginable, and should it happen, there's no way Lukaku would ever even consider returning to Chelsea.
Juventus made the mistake of selling Henry despite the player's obvious talent, and it haunted the club for the next decade. Chelsea simply can't afford to make that same mistake, and Mourinho is too smart not to realise that.