Striker Romelu Lukaku’s future at Everton has been thrown into doubt after he told the club he does not want to sign his new contract.
Only last week the Belgium international’s agent Mino Raiola has claimed the deal was “99.99999999” per cent done.
However, despite the prospect of becoming the Toffees’ first £100,000-plus-a-week player the 23-year-old appears to have had a change of heart.
At the weekend a Belgian broadcaster asked Lukaku whether he was going to sign the contract, whether he was still reflecting on it and whether there was an agreement and to each question the striker simply answered ‘No’.
Suggestions then began to emerge that there was a disagreement over a proposed release clause with Everton wanting it set at £90million – which would require any club to break the world record transfer fee – and Lukaku’s side looking for the figure to be closer to £70million.
Breaking: Romelu Lukaku has told @Everton today he is not prepared to sign a new contract. All talks are off.
— Dominic King (@DominicKing_DM) March 14, 2017
Press Association Sport understands further developments have now apparently seen the player inform the club after training on Tuesday that the new contract will remain unsigned.
Lukaku, who is the Premier League’s joint top goalscorer with Harry Kane on 19, has emerged as one of Europe’s top talents and has regularly spoken about his desire to play in the Champions League.
In spite of improvements under Ronald Koeman this season Europe’s elite competition remains a considerable way off for the Toffees.
Everton managed to persuade Lukaku, a club-record £28million signing from Chelsea in the summer of 2014, to stay last summer despite interest from his former club, among others.
But even with two years left on his current deal the club – who have declined to comment about the current situation – appear unable to match the player’s ambitions and are likely to find it far more difficult to repeat the feat this year.