(Reuters) - Everton’s Ronald Koeman wants to keep Romelu Lukaku, saying the Premier League’s top scorer has improved significantly since he became the Merseyside club’s manager at the start of the season.
British media reported this week that Everton were asking a world record fee of 100 million pounds ($128 million) for the 23-year-old Belgian international, who has scored 24 league goals in this campaign.
“He’s now a better striker for the team than he was at this time last year,” Koeman told a news conference ahead of his team’s trip to 13th-placed West Ham, who have landed only one victory in their last nine league games, on Saturday.
“If someone’s interested they’ll call the board of the club and they’ll speak about it but we want to keep him. Every team wants goalscorers because they make points for the team.”
Everton have lost only two league games in 2017 and are lying seventh in the league, level on points with sixth-placed Arsenal, although they have played two more games.
Koeman is targeting a top-five finish to secure guaranteed qualification to the Europa League next season and he hopes to remain in contention when Everton visit the Emirates in the last game of the season.
“That’s our target (fifth place)...if we’re still in the mix when we play Arsenal at the end of the season it will be really nice,” the former Southampton boss said, adding that he expects to make several additions to his squad next season should they be playing European football.
“We know that we have to be prepared in the number of players we have. To have a lot of competition and that’s a challenge,” the Dutchman added.
($1 = 0.7794 pounds)
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; editing by Alexander Smith