January 10, 2018 / 9:17 AM / 9 months ago

Everton owner says Lukaku exit swayed by 'voodoo message'

(Reuters) - Everton majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri says that the club’s former striker Romelu Lukaku turned down a big offer to stay in Merseyside on the advice of a “voodoo message” that was passed on to him by the player’s mother.

Soccer Football - FA Cup Third Round - Manchester United vs Derby County - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - January 5, 2018 Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring their second goal Action Images via Reuters/Jason Cairnduff

The 24-year-old’s prolific form garnered interest from top clubs in England after the Belgian international scored 25 goals in 37 league appearances last season.

Lukaku was initially expected to return to his former club Chelsea but the 24-year-old instead sealed a move to Manchester United in July, and Moshiri says Everton offered everything they could in an effort to hold on to their main goal threat.

“With Romelu, I wasted two summers trying to keep him,” Moshiri said during Everton’s annual general meeting on Tuesday. “The first summer, I spent almost three months, and we managed to keep him for another year.

“Last summer, we offered him a better deal than Chelsea and he just didn’t want to stay... If I tell you what we offered, you won’t believe it. His agent went to Finch Farm to sign the contract.

“Then somehow during the meeting, Romelu called his mother and said she was on a pilgrimage to Africa and had seen some sort of voodoo that said he had to sign for Chelsea.

“What can you do? He’d gone to Los Angeles and wouldn’t come back, his brain had gone.”

Lukaku is United’s leading scorer this season with 10 goals in 21 league games, helping lead Jose Mourinho’s side up to second in the standings.

Everton were also unsuccessful in retaining midfielder Ross Barkley at Goodison Park with the England international swapping Merseyside for champions Chelsea last week.

“I didn’t spent as much time to keep Ross as I did Rom (Lukaku),” Moshiri added.

Everton, who were knocked out of the FA Cup by city rivals Liverpool last Friday, are ninth in the standings and travel to fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru

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