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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Romelu Lukaku: Stay at Everton, rejoin Chelsea or sign for Man United?

Steve Nicol tries to decipher which club Romelu Lukaku could be leaning towards as the striker claims he already knows where he'll be next season.
Gab Marcotti and Dan Thomas evaluate the latest transfer rumours, including Man United's need for a target forward.

Everton striker Romelu Lukaku is a man in demand. 

Chelsea and Manchester United are said to be keen on the big Belgian, who has told Everton he is eager to move in search of Champions League football. 

Lukaku, 24, claims he knows where he is playing next season but where is best for him? ESPN FC's club bloggers from Everton, Chelsea and Manchester United have their say on the £100 million-rated striker's future.

EVERTON

Lukaku and international breaks seem to coincide with the striker discussing a future away from Goodison Park. His ability in front of goal matches his knack for needless musings on his future. That said, Everton would undoubtedly be in a much stronger position if Lukaku remains beyond this summer. The media circus attached to the player is a minor inconvenience when weighed against his influence on the pitch.

Manager Ronald Koeman could potentially do a lot with a reported asking price of £100m but a sizeable budget is no guarantee for replacing the productivity of a player directly contributing 50 percent of Everton's 62 league goals last season (25 goals, six assists). A staggering 20 goals separated Lukaku and nearest teammate Ross Barkley (five).

In Lukaku, Everton possess a proven and reliable scorer, one that has improved under Koeman and will continue to do so. His record shows 87 goals in 166 matches (155 starts), putting him level with Alex Young and above Alan Ball and Tommy Lawton on goals scored in royal blue. Only 15 players in Everton history have scored more goals for the club. It may be wishful thinking to expect this ambitious 24-year-old to play a fifth successive season without Champions League football, but the two years left on his contract and his indisputable importance to the team are why Everton should do everything to coax at least one more season from Lukaku. -- Luke O'Farrell

CHELSEA

If Diego Costa does depart, Lukaku would be an excellent replacement. Although not an exact replica of the Spain international, his ability to lead the line, decent turn of foot and the use of his physicality to dominate defenders would suit Chelsea's style of play. Lukaku's work rate has often been criticised though that would certainly improve under the demanding Antonio Conte and in a team where he is far from being the only big name.

Having spent his teenage years dreaming of emulating his idol Didier Drogba by scoring goals for Chelsea, the motivation for him to succeed would be huge. He would also need little time to acclimatise to his new environment having already spent three years on Chelsea's books, something that would not be the case at Old Trafford.

His previous spell might not have worked out too well for either party but as a more mature individual and with his game having vastly developed in the interim, he is guaranteed to have a far greater impact second time round. The presence of his Belgian compatriots Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois will make him feel even more at home and could help him hit the ground running if he was to return to Stamford Bridge. -- Phil Lythell

MAN UNITED 

Lukaku is one of several signings Manchester United should be looking to make, and what's not to like about him? He has youth, speed, technique, and a high footballing IQ; he has strength in the air, strength in possession and the ability to play in those around him.

He would be the ideal foil for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba, and would be an outstanding fit alongside Antoine Griezmann should the Frenchman eventually make the move from Atletico Madrid. He scored 25 goals for Everton last season, with six assists, highlighting what a well-rounded player he is and how well-suited he is to English football.

Indeed, he has 87 goals in 166 matches for Everton, which is a very fine strike rate. He has all the ability to be a genuine goal threat in the Champions League, and should be aggressively courted by United, even though there will doubtless be strong interest from rivals both home and abroad.

His age and his talent would make him an excellent acquisition for Jose Mourinho, and the rapid development of his game in recent seasons suggests that he is only set to improve. -- Musa Okwonga

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