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Everton can be in Ruud health next season even if Lukaku transfer happens, says Koeman

Date Posted,May 18, 2017

Ronald Koeman has insisted there is life after Lukaku… even if he remains confident striker Romelu will stay at Everton this summer.

With nothing to play for but pride at Arsenal on Sunday against a side still looking to overhaul Merseyside neighbours Liverpool in the race for the top four, Toffees manager Koeman chose to focus instead on his transfer plans for next season.

Those will revolve around midfielder Ross Barkley – with Koeman admitting at his pre-match press conference that he has little confidence the England player will sign a new deal allowing him to remain at Goodison – and top scorer and Golden Boot contender Romelu Lukaku.

Everton have not been approached by any club about Lukaku, says Koeman (Photo: Liverpool Echo)

He still believes his star striker could opt to remain with Everton, but he reassured their fans it may not be a disaster if he doesn’t.

“In my career, we lost one time Ruud Gullit in PSV [when he joined AC Milan in 1987] and everybody was afraid,” he explained. “And we signed some other new players and won, in 1988, the championship, the [Dutch] Cup, the European Cup. That is football.

“Of course, you like to keep your best striker, your top scorer, but we also need around that position more productivity. I said before maybe you lose at one side something… but I am not talking about what will happen if he does not stay next season.

Koeman was a PSV player when they sold Gullit, then won the Treble a year later (Photo: Getty)

“He has two years more contract. I expect that he will stay because until now I did not hear anything from the board that [any] one club is asking about Lukaku.”

Barkley now looks certain to leave though, with Koeman again reiterating he has 24 hours after the Arsenal game to confirm he will sign the contract on the table… or be sold.

Asked if he was confident the player would sign, he replied: “No. No because it’s a long time he’ been thinking about his future. But OK I’m not worried because I like to work with players who like to stay.”

Even as the manager insisted he still wanted Barkley to stay, in the same breath he revealed he would sign players in his same position in the summer.

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“If you offer a player a new contract, a good contract, it means you want to keep the player. If we didn’t want him to stay longer we wouldn’t offer him a new contract,” he said. “But it’s not about his decision, we will go on – we will look for players in that position and even if he stays there will be more competition for him.”

Koeman admitted he would have to think about what action to take if Barkley refuses to sign a new deal OR be sold, but he didn’t fear that scenario: “I will have to talk about the situation, but I expect an answer soon after the weekend and not another ten days.”

The manager could even axe Barkley for the season-ending trip to London, potentially the only change to the side that defeated Watford last week.

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