31 July 2014 03:47
Romelu Lukaku denied he bears a grudge towards former employers Chelsea after signing permanently with Everton.
Lukaku spent last season on loan at Everton from Chelsea but made the move permanent on Wednesday, signing a five-year contract, with the Merseyside club paying a £28million transfer fee.
The transfer brought Lukaku’s connection to Chelsea to an end, with the 21-year-old striker having played just 10 Premier League matches over three seasons at Stamford Bridge, although he spent the majority of the past two campaigns on loan at West Brom and Everton.
But the Belgian rebuffed suggestions he felt hurt by his lack of opportunity to play at Chelsea, although he made it clear he feels more comfortable at Goodison Park.
“I need to be at a place where it felt right and here I have the confidence of the technical staff and the trust of the supporters,” Lukaku said.
“This is the place where I belong. I want to grow here and become a better player.
“We want to become one of the best teams in England and reach the top four. Most teams know we are a good footballing side.
“I don’t have hard feelings against Chelsea. They gave me the opportunity to come to England. They gave me high hopes of playing in Europe.
“Without them I wouldn’t be here.
“Of course [I’m happy to move permanently rather than another loan], I’m 21. It’s time to have a stable career. It was important to be somewhere where you are there [permanently].”
Lukaku scored 15 goals in 31 Premier League appearances for Everton last term, following on from a haul of 17 in 35 games for West Brom in the 2012-13 season.
But the powerfully built forward believes he can get even better in his second season under Everton manager Roberto Martinez.
“I had a feeling this was the best place for me to grow and develop. I’m very pleased to be here again. Roberto knows football very well and I can develop under him,” Lukaku said.
“He’s someone I need as a young footballer. He wants to make our team one of the best in England.
“I told them [Everton] very quickly I want to work under him and play for this club again. The rest was set up by the board and my agent.”
Everton paid a club-record fee to secure Lukaku’s signature and Martinez did not shy away from what it said about his ambitions for the blue half of Merseyside.
“Romelu was our number one target and who we wanted to bring in. It had to be a record fee transfer and he’s well worth every penny,” the Spaniard said.
“Rom is such a humble person but a very ambitious one. He fits perfectly with where we are as a football club.
“He’s only 21, the target is for him to become one of the best world-class strikers. This is the perfect environment for him. We’re just desperate to push him to become a very special player.
“Of course [it is a statement of intent], to have a footballer of his calibre permanently, there had to be a lot of long term planning.”