By Elliott Bretland
It’s that same old gutting feeling isn’t it?
Another one of our heroes is looking to leave Everton in search of silverware and glory.
This time, it’s Romelu Lukaku, who is refusing to sign a new deal, hell-bent on playing on the biggest stage in the Champions League. Something we cannot offer him next season.
He doesn’t believe he can achieve his aims should he stay on Merseyside and that hurts.
We now how this one goes.
In all likelihood, another summer of rumour and speculation will rumble on before any faint hope is extinguished, cruelly ended by the sight of the Belgian holding the shirt of another club with a huge grin on his face… in the last week of August, no doubt.
We’ve been here before. However, this will be the last time. This is the last time we will have to deal with that familiar sense of crushing dejection. And for that reason, we can take enormous positivity going forward.
Many Toffees sides of the last two decades have boasted several huge pieces of the jigsaw.
However, when it comes to putting it together, we lose the bulk before finding the corners and edges. We never have the time to build a full side and are always forced back a step when we appear to be on the cusp of moving up to that next level.
In the 90s, players were forced out while others left of their own accord – Duncan Ferguson, Nick Barmby, Gary Speed and Francis Jeffers all moved on as we continued to struggle and scrap.
Then, in the early 2000s and more recently, it continued as we lost players to clubs at the elite level we now aspire to be. Wayne Rooney, Joleon Lescott, Mikel Arteta, Marouane Fellaini. They all left and won trophies. Meanwhile, our wait continues.
It’s been tough to take and occurred again just eight months ago – John Stones the latest Everton player to state his desire to leave our great club and see his wish granted.
It’s harsh. But no more, for the summer of 2017 should be the last time we have to deal with such a setback.
Romelu Lukaku will be the last of this kind of Everton player.
He was here before the major investment. He arrived at a time when the club were seemingly stuck as Premier League also-rans. He joined when we had hope and belief but lacked resources to really achieve and return to the top.
Now, though, players who come through the door at USM Finch Farm are joining to be part of something special. They are joining a football club aiming for titles. We can, at last, hope and strive to match their ambition.
Of course, it is early days in the Farhad Moshiri era but the objectives have changed for the good. Players will not consider leaving.
Morgan Schneiderlin and Ademola Lookman arrived in January. They are here because they believe in the project. Roanld Koeman and Steve Walsh, they too are here for the project, to see it through.
We will not be a stepping stone. We are the team new players hope and believe they will be successful with.
Tom Davies, Ross Barkley, Mason Holgate. They are dreaming of winning in blue. They’re committed. They will pull in the same direction. These are the players we want.
Everton are the here, now and future for all arrivals. They will not join with an eye on their next club. They will put pen to paper in the belief they can and will win trophies with Everton.
We are building, as we have in the past, but this time, the blocks will remain. We will no longer lay the foundations only to lose the fixtures and fittings to a rival.
Of course, all clubs, even the very best, have to deal with star players voicing their discontent and wishes to leave from time to time. However, for Everton, this will become a rarity and not a seemingly annual event.
We will become the club players force through a move to join. We will become the club we have envied so often in the past. The club that has stolen another team’s best player, the one the fans adored.
So, yes, it is a blow should Lukaku leave.
And, yes, this is nothing new for Evertonians. But, be sure, this is the last time we will have to deal with such a blow.
Make no mistake, we are a club on the up and everybody who gets on board from this moment is here for the long haul.
After years of seeing players we’ve grown to love desert us, it seems Lukaku will be the next player to jump ship. He will be the last.