Romelu Lukaku cost Everton FC a club-record €35m when he rejoined the Merseysiders – for whom he scored 15 goals in 31 Premier League games on loan last season – on a five-year deal from Chelsea FC this week.
If the transfer fee eclipsed the €19m that Everton paid for Marouane Fellaini in 2008 – and served as a reminder of the nine-time English champions' big-spending days of old – it can also be justified by the eye-catching figures that already underpin Lukaku's career.
Only Robin van Persie and Luis Suárez have surpassed the big centre-forward's 32-goal Premier League haul of the past two campaigns – 15 for Everton and 17 for West Bromwich Albion FC (when the former RSC Anderlecht prodigy was again on loan from Chelsea). What's more, by the age of 21, Lukaku had scored 65 top-flight goals, a statistic that comfortably exceeds the 57 that Lionel Messi had mustered by that stage for FC Barcelona (or Michael Owen's 55 goals and Wayne Rooney's 44).
Anderlecht: 33 in 72 (league)
West Bromwich Albion: 17 in 35
Everton: 15 in 31
Belgium: 7 in 33
The Lukaku move capped a successful few days for the Toffees, who on Monday signed Bosnian international midfielder Muhamed Besić on a five-year contract from Ferencvárosi TC and on Tuesday announced a new four-year deal for home-grown England midfielder Ross Barkley.
All three young players impressed at the recent FIFA World Cup, indicating that Everton – who mounted a strong challenge for a UEFA Champions League spot last season before coming fifth in England – can maintain those high standards in 2014/15, when Roberto Martínez's men will be one of seven clubs with direct entry to the UEFA Europa League group stage.
— Everton (@Everton) July 30, 2014
Lukaku's best Everton moments
West Ham United FC 2-3 Everton
A memorable Blues debut for the Belgian international as Lukaku comes off the bench to head an unerring 85th-minute winner from Kevin Mirallas's cross – before knocking himself out in colliding with a West Ham defender.
Everton 3-3 Liverpool FC
Lukaku rises majestically to plant a powerful 82nd-minute header past Simon Mignolet and put the Blue half of Merseyside 3-2 up in a thrilling derby at Goodison Park. Ten minutes earlier, and from another Mirallas centre, he had rifled in the equaliser.
Everton 3-0 Arsenal FC
After Steven Naismith scores on the rebound from an early Lukaku effort, Everton's new No10 breaks onto Mirallas's pass down the right, cuts into the area and inside Thomas Vermaelen before launching a low rocket beyond Wojciech Szczesny.
What they say
Romelu Lukaku, Everton striker
"I am really excited about rejoining Everton. I had a fantastic experience last season and a great relationship with the manager, the chairman, the staff, the players and the fans. I can't wait to get started again and I'm looking forward to a successful season. Mr Martínez will be one of the top managers in the world and to play under him now, and for such wonderful fans, is an honour."
Roberto Martínez, Everton manager
"The arrival of Rom is more than just a signing – it's the fruition of a lot of hard work to get the player we wanted. This is a big moment for Everton's history and the perfect way of getting the squad ready for the start of the season.
"He's desperate to be successful, desperate to achieve things. That side of his character and personality is infectious – that's why he was such a big hit with everyone at our club.
He is one of the most gifted young footballers around the world. We feel Rom hasn't reached his full potential yet – but it is fair to say that potentially he has got everything a striker could need to become a very special player."
Phil Jagielka, Everton captain
"It was our job as players, staff and everyone to convince him that, if there was a chance he was going to leave Chelsea, that this would be a perfect fit – and it seems we've done a pretty good job. For him to choose us over teams who were in the Champions League is a massive coup. But then we do pride ourselves on how players feel when they come here."
Bill Kenwright, Everton chairman
"Romelu was a massive part of the jigsaw for Roberto and Everton, and nobody is more pleased than me that an 11-month quest ended at [Wednesday] lunchtime, thanks hugely to the efforts of all parties, including Rom, his representative, Chelsea and, of course, Roberto."
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