With the summer transfer window approaching swiftly on the horizon once again, the future of Everton striker Romelu Lukaku has been subject to a stream of constant speculation over recent days. Whether it's his ambitious father expressing a belief that his son is ready to join one of European football's traditional powerhouses or agent Mino Raiola musing over the claims of specific suitors, it appears that the highly-rated Belgian international will be presented with a glut of opportunities after a splendid campaign in which he has plundered 25 goals in all competitions already.
So just who are the clubs believed to be interested in his signature? IBTimes UK runs down the list of candidates that is only set to grow even lengthier between now and July...
One of two destinations heavily favoured by Dad Roger, the potential for Lukaku to bolster a rather thin strikeforce featuring injured captain Wayne Rooney and talented teenage upstart Marcus Rashford could be influenced by whether or not Jose Mourinho is appointed as Louis van Gaal's managerial successor at Old Trafford. The self-proclaimed "Special One" was in his second stint as Chelsea boss when the decision was made to permanently offload the 22-year-old due to his desire to become a first-team regular and the obvious Financial Fair Play incentives involved in a £28m ($40.3m) deal.
Any talk of a rift between the two men was swiftly shot down, however, with Lukaku eventually publicly thanking Mourinho for affording him the opportunity to demonstrate his talents elsewhere before recently appearing relatively open to the prospect of a reunion.
Like cross-city rivals Atletico, Real were placed under a transfer embargo earlier this year after being found to have breached regulations governing the transfers of youth players. Such a ban applied to the forthcoming summer and next January's window, but was later temporarily suspended pending the outcome of an appeal. The case is expected to be heard over the coming months and, if they are successful in having the ruling reversed, then you can count on the world's second-most valuable sports organisation continuing their well-established policy of expensive recruitment.
With persistent links to the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Robert Lewandowski and Alvaro Morata, a striker could be of paramount importance to Zinedine Zidane and co depending on how the recent legal controversy involving Karim Benzema pans out. A fearsome tally of 20 goals in just 21 La Liga outings this term proves that the Frenchman still has a great deal to offer, but nevertheless it remains to be seen how long he will remain at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Bayern's supposed interest surfaced earlier this month when it was claimed that technical director Michael Reschke had been dispatched to the West Midlands in order to run the rule over Lukaku during Everton's Premier League visit to Aston Villa. The former Anderlecht prodigy notched the Toffees' third goal in a routine 3-1 win.
Carlo Ancelotti, who will succeed Manchester City-bound Pep Guardiola in Bavaria next season, had already been sacked and replaced by Andre Villas-Boas by the time he arrived at Chelsea in 2011 and it seems that any possible switch will be entirely reliant on Lewandowski heading to pastures new.
"Juventus as a solution could go well," Raiola, who also represents Paul Pogba, was reported to have told Gazzetta dello Sport recently when quizzed yet again on his client's ambitions. He also insisted that an eye should be kept on Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, yet it is hard to escape the feeling that the Bianconeri and Lukaku could be an ideal fit.
His desire to compete in the Champions League is well-documented, as is the affordable buy-back clause that would allow Real to snatch back Morata two years after allowing him to leave for Serie A. The prospect of an effective long-term partnership with the impressive Paulo Dybala will surely hold considerable appeal.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's confirmation that he will leave the reigning Ligue 1 champions when his contract expires in June leaves big-spending PSG in the market for a fresh attacking focal point, particularly when you consider that Ezequiel Lavezzi has already been sold to Hebei China Fortune and the usual speculation pointing to an imminent exit for the frustrated Edinson Cavani. Money will not be a problem for the Qatari-owned French giants, who could bolster their appeal by finally making that financial muscle count on the European stage and advancing past Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League next month.
Lukaku departed Stamford Bridge under something of a cloud in July 2014, playing only 15 games despite proving his significant potential by notching a combined total of 32 Premier League goals during consecutive season-long loan spells with West Brom and Everton.
It has recently been suggested that a return to Chelsea would be of interest, although those rumours were given short shrift by the player himself. He told Belgian daily La Derniere Heure: "No, absolutely not. The page is turned on both sides."
One of the newly-emerging contenders in the race to sign Lukaku, Atletico's summer move for previously prolific FC Porto frontman Jackson Martinez did not bear fruit and just seven months later the Colombian became the most expensive signing in the history of Asian football with a shock £31m transfer to Guangzhou Evergrande.
That exit has left Los Rojiblancos in the market for a new striker, with Cavani, Gonzalo Higuain, Mauro Icardi and Carlos Bacca seemingly under consideration. A homecoming for Diego Costa is still thought to be high on Diego Simeone's agenda, yet the chances of that move actually coming off appear increasingly slim. Any hopes of landing Lukaku, meanwhile, are likely to be severely hindered by an extravagant price tag and the lingering uncertainty of that transfer ban.