Much Romelu About Nothing
Romelu Lukaku was asked a question. He was asked if he wanted to play in the Champions League.
If he says no to this question, he looks foolish. Even if you asked an amateur footballer, the answer would be a resounding ‘yes’, despite the possibility being extremely remote. For someone of Lukaku’s talent, the reality is that he is expected to eventually make his mark in the Champions League, so suggesting he was not interested in it would show a major lack of ambition.
If he says yes to this question, the media frenzy of him wanting to leave Everton, who will not be in next season’s Champions League, begins. And it is this exact situation that the striker now finds himself embroiled in.
Despite the answer to the question being obvious, Lukaku answering it creates a storm of headlines. Evertonians’ reactions to these headlines have ranged right from one end of the spectrum to the other. The Belgium international has been blasted by some for suggesting he could leave, whilst a section of supporters have shown sympathy towards him and his desire to play at a higher level.
So, what is the right reaction?
Some would argue Lukaku’s comments were ill-advised, coming in the build-up to Everton’s most important match in years, an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley against Manchester United or West Ham. This is true. Even though the points highlighted in the interview were probably already known by most Evertonians deep down, hearing them come directly from the 22-year-old’s mouth is always going to be more upsetting.
At the same time, however, Lukaku answered the question honestly. He could have deflected the interview and framed his answer to better suit the wishes of Evertonians. But are our feelings so fragile that he must go to such lengths to protect them? Lukaku is not a politician; he is a very young man living in a world of social media where celebrity is everything. It is far too easy to blame him for making comments when he is surely asked for them by ardent journalists on a daily basis.
At some point when answering the questions fired at him by the media, bits of the truth are bound to slip out. But when this truth is something that Evertonians should know already, is it really all that bad? In the past, several players have come out and passionately committed their future to their club, only for it to count for nothing when they have subsequently departed the following summer. Whilst saying nothing may be a preferred, if unrealistic, idea for supporters, avoiding lying to them is surely better than saying something proven to be untrue months later.
Lukaku has a responsibility to respect Everton Football Club. Despite what the media might have you believe, he is trying to do just that. This is a player who could go on to become one of the best of his generation. He is more likely to achieve that aim playing for a club currently competing for league and European titles, which is a painful truth that Evertonians are angrily struggling to accept.
Here’s hoping Lukaku continues to talk with his feet for the rest of the season. Any potential departure would be sad news for Evertonians, but it would soften the blow if we could first get a photograph of him lifting the FA Cup this May.