Everton have paid a club record £28 million to take Romelu Lukaku from Chelsea on a permanent basis after his successful loan spell last season. The fact that Everton would pay so much for the 21-year-old and that Chelsea would let go of a promising young striker when they've had so many problems at that position in recent years both raise questions about the move. So it is our duty to look into the future for a glimpse of the best and worst outcomes of this deal for each side.
The immediate future is undeniably bright. Lukaku was the one player the club wanted more than any other in this transfer window and now they've got him on a five-year deal. He led the team with 16 goals in all competitions last season. The price was high, but, for a club not known for possessing financial muscle, this can also be seen as a positive. Kind of like a person lifting a bus with their bare hands to save a child trapped underneath.
Brightest future: Lukaku continues to develop and regularly scores 20-plus goals each season. With Man United still trying to rebuild and Liverpool adjusting to the post-Suarez era, Lukaku helps Everton to a place in the Champions League and carries them on the European stage. Roberto Martinez is hailed as a genius and David Moyes, his predecessor, writes a glowing foreword to his best-selling autobiography "I am Roberto" simply because he has nothing better to do.
Bleakest future: Lukaku ends up being to Everton what Andy Carroll was to Liverpool. After two frustrating years in which Lukaku throws tantrums every time he's benched or subbed off, he is sold back to his first club, Anderlecht, for just £4 million. Everton just barely escape relegation and Martinez is sacked. After an ill-fated eight months under Andre Villas-Boas, Moyes is brought back and uses every press conference to talk about how he only spends 22.5 hours a day thinking about getting revenge against Manchester United.
Boring but likely future: Lukaku scores 15-20 goals every year he's healthy and Everton finish between fifth and seventh in the table each of the next five seasons. He will then be sold to PSG for £145 million (which will only be the world's 312th most expensive transfer at that point).
Jose Mourinho has repeatedly made it clear that he wasn't interested in making Lukaku his top striker, and by bringing back Didier Drogba on a one-year deal and signing Diego Costa for £32 million he ensured that message was sent loud and clear. And judging by Mourinho's comments after the deal was made, it sounds like Lukaku received that message and, as a result, wanted out.
“Romelu was always very clear with us with his mentality and his approach was not highly motivated to come to a competitive situation with Chelsea,” Mourinho said, according to the Telegraph. “He wanted to play for Chelsea but he clearly wanted to be first-choice striker, but for a club of our dimension it is very difficult to promise to a player. That reduced, immediately, his desire to come to us."
After Lukaku's underwhelming performance at the World Cup, it's highly unlikely there were any offers close to Everton's and recouping all but £4 million of the Costa fee must have sounded nice in the age of Financial Fair Play. So, that was that.
Brightest future: Fernando Torres is wrapped in Everton's money to convince someone to take him off Chelsea's hands. Diego Costa transitions seamlessly from La Liga to the Premier League, Didier Drogba admits that his birth certificate was forged to make him eight years older than he actually is, Chelsea win the treble and, for some unexplainable reason, Pep Guardiola is legally required to become Mourinho's personal butler.
Bleakest future: Costa, Torres and Drogba combine for a total of seven goals in all competitions and Chelsea finish outside the top four while Lukaku quickly becomes the world's most dominant non-person biting striker. Mourinho is sacked and, in a pitiful display, holds a press conference just to admit that he isn't that special after all. He spends the rest of his days wandering the streets of London in his slippers and bath robe and telling tourist children to be polite to their parents.
Boring but likely future: Chelsea win some trophies and get enough from their strikers to not particularly miss Lukaku. When asked about him, Mourinho claims Lukaku never once washed his hands after going to the bathroom. Roman Abramovich smiles occasionally.