Everton remain confident that striker Romelu Lukaku will sign a new contract at Goodison Park despite talks breaking down over an extension. Reports suggest the Premier League's joint leading scorer has told the club he will not agree a deal beyond the two-and-half years that remain on his existing contract, a move which is set to spark a transfer war involving the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United.
The deal worth an estimated £100,000-a-week (€115,000) would have made Lukaku, who has scored 19 top-flight goals this season, the highest-paid player in the Merseysiders' history. Superagent Mino Raiola was previously convinced the forward was going to extend his deal, but manager Ronald Koeman threw any possible agreement into doubt last week.
A major sticking point behind the negotiations was the inclusion of a release clause below £90m, which chairman Bill Kenwright was unwilling to allow. Talks are ongoing between Everton, Lukaku and Raiola – and a resolution could yet be reached.
Chelsea and United are understood to be monitoring the situation regarding Lukaku's future and could make a move for the ex-Anderlecht hitmanm this summer – one of the last chances Everton would have to recoup a substantial fee for their star player. But majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has attempted to calm fears regarding Lukuku and still expects a deal to be signed.
"It's not an issue," the Iranian, who brought a 49.9% stake in Everton in February 2016, told TalkSport. "The club is confident with the strong relationship it has with the player and the agent. He has two-and-a-half years left on his contract and the new, improved contract is recognition of what he's done for the club. No-one should worry, he is our player."
Chelsea failed in an attempt to re-sign Lukaku in the summer but could return for the 23-year-old at the end of the season. In three years at Stamford Bridge Lukaku made just 15 appearances in all competitions, during which he was sent out on loan to West Bromwich Albion and Everton.
The uncertainty surrounding Diego Costa's future at Chelsea amid speculation he could move to China or return to Atletico Madrid in summer may see Antonio Conte forced to move for an additional forward. Michy Batshauyai's unconvincing displays since arriving from Marseille could well hasten that search.
United could also be seeking to improve their attack should Wayne Rooney move to the Chinese Super League. Top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic is yet to sign an extension with the club and is out of contract at the end of the campaign, having only agreed an initial 12-month deal upon joining from Paris Saint-Germain.