Romelu Lukaku sets his sights on Champions League football next season to leave Chelsea and Everton future in the balance

The Belgian striker is on a season-long loan at Everton and admits that he needs to be playing in Europe's top competition next term

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The Independent Football

Romelu Lukaku has given his biggest hint yet that he wants to return to Chelsea next season and not head out on another loan, unless he can help Everton fulfil his desire of playing Champions League football next term.

The Belgian striker is on a season long loan at Goodison Park after he was deemed temporarily surplus to requirements by Blues manager Jose Mourinho last summer, despite Chelsea’s options in attack being identified as their weak spot.

Fernando Torres showed signs of finding some form since the turn of the year until he picked up a knee ligament injury in the middle of January, although he could make his return in the match against West Brom tonight. In his absence, Samuel Eto’o has found his best to score a hat-trick in the 3-1 win over Manchester United, but he has not scored since that match on January 19, while Demba Ba has not scored since December.

Many suggested that Mourinho would choose to stick with Lukaku this season given his sheer size and physicality a throwback to his former favourite Didier Drogba, but instead chose to let the Belgium international head elsewhere for the 2013-14 campaign.

Lukaku feels he is now ready to make his bow on the European stage, referencing Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney’s breakthrough as a motivation of his own.

“I'm turning 21, I've been a professional for five years already. It is time,” Lukaku told Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws.

“It is high time that I play in the Champions League. It is the next step I need in my development. Full stop.

“Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney were experienced already at that level when they were just 23-24 years old. I want to play Champions League football now. I must now show I'm ready for it.

“I still have two years on my contract and I know Chelsea follow my development. In the end it depends on what the manager thinks about me.”

Lukaku is currently recovering from an ankle injury that he picked up at the end of last month, although the Toffees are hopeful that he will be fit to return against West Ham on March 1. His claim that he wants to play Champions League football doesn’t necessarily mean that he will remain at Chelsea, especially of Everton make up the six points that currently separates themselves and Liverpool in fourth position.