Lukaku: Everton "somewhere I belong"
Everton have confirmed the signing of Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea for a club-record fee of 28 million pounds, and the Belgium striker insists he is excited about the prospect of developing at the club.
Lukaku's arrival at Everton was confirmed as the 21-year-old was presented at a news conference at the club's Finch Farm training ground Wednesday evening. Earlier in the day, he sparked feverish speculation about his future with a post on Twitter that suggested a move away from Chelsea was imminent.
He admitted that he had an inkling he might be coming back to Merseyside on a permanent basis as early as the end of last season, adding that his ambition now was to help bring Champions League football to Goodison Park.
The striker said: "Our vision is to become one of the best in the country -- to challenge the top four. That's our main target. Personally, I just want to keep improving as a player.
"Last year was a very good year, and after a very short period of time, I had a feeling that this was the best place for me to grow and develop as a young man and as a footballer. I'm very pleased to be here again and I want to help my team-mates reach the heights.
"The manager has been very influential in the deal. He's someone who knows football very well, and he's someone I can develop under as a player. He makes us better as a team and lets us play good football. That's something I needed as a young footballer.
"I want to develop, I want to become one of the best, and he wants to make our team become one of the best teams in England."
Lukaku, who joined Chelsea from Belgian club Anderlecht in 2011, has spent the last two seasons out on loan at Premier League clubs, having been at Everton last season and West Brom the season before. He said a permanent move was important to him as he looks to establish himself as a striker.
"I'm 21, it's time to have a stable career," he said. "It was important to be somewhere where you're there to win titles and to help your team-mates win games. I decided very quickly that I wanted to come back here, because it was a good step for me. I need to play at a high level, I need to play in a good team.
"I needed to be in a place where it felt right. Here I have the confidence of the whole technical staff and the trust of the supporters as well. These are good things that will help me grow and develop.
"I came back because I had a good feeling with the players, with the staff, with everybody here. It feels somewhere I belong. I want to grow here, become a better player and I want to help my teammates."
Manager Roberto Martinez, meanwhile, declared that Lukaku's signing is a statement of intent for an Everton side who finished fifth in the Premier League. He has also challenged the Belgium international to prove he can become a world-class forward.
Martinez said: "It's fair to say Romelu was our No. 1 target. It's been a relentless pursuit. It had to be a record fee transfer, and it's well worth every single penny and effort that we put behind it.
"I think when you listen to Rom, you understand that he's such a humble person and an ambitious one, and he fits perfectly with where we are as a football club. We are ambitious and we want to be successful. He's only 21, he's already scored over 30 goals in the Premier League. He will never say it, but the target for him is to become one of the best world-class strikers. That's the perfect environment for him, and I can't wait to see him develop.
"I think it's a very significant day in the history of our club. Sometimes when you sign a player, you bring excitement. With Rom, we know exactly what we're getting. It was every Evertonian's wish that he came back. The feeling in the dressing room was to try to get him back on a permanent basis to be able to get a bit of continuity following what we did last season.
"We are delighted. As you can imagine, it's not something that's happened overnight. There's been a lot of work and a lot of planning, but the chairman has been phenomenal. His backing was very important to getting Rom back, and that's a very big statement internally as to what we want to do as a club. I can't put into words how excited we are."