New contract would not keep Romelu Lukaku at Everton, says manager Ronald Koeman
Everton manager Ronald Koeman admits even if Romelu Lukaku signs a new contract it will not commit his future to the club.
The Belgium striker's agent Mino Raiola on Thursday said the deal was "99.9 per cent done" and, while Koeman claimed he did not know how far advanced the negotiations were, he felt it was a significant development.
"I know they are in talks together about a new contract but if it is 90 per cent or 99 per cent I need to believe his agent," he said.
"It is a big deal. The club need to keep their best players and do everything to keep them in the club because that is the future.
"Of course you don't know in football what can happen in one year but at least there is an understanding that the boy likes to stay and he is a big part of Everton's future.
"Even when they sign new contracts, they don't say they will stay until the end of the contract. It is football and business.
"But first of all I think if a new deal is done, that is good news."
Everton have always been susceptible to clubs coming in and buying their star men, but Koeman, like his predecessors, is keen to make it as difficult as possible for players to leave by making improvements on and off the field - which includes bringing in top-quality signings.
"If you watch Tottenham, they made a step last season, but it is really difficult for them to be close to the top," the Dutchman added.
"That seems to be more difficult for Everton. We know we need to battle for players and we have competition of (Manchester) United, (Manchester) City and Chelsea then it is difficult.
"But I still believe we need to get good players to make the next step, and that is what we need to do."
On the pitch, Everton will be without goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and midfielder James McCarthy for the Boxing Day visit to Leicester.
Stekelenburg sustained a dead leg in Monday's Merseyside derby defeat and will be out in the short term, but McCarthy has suffered another hamstring injury and will be sidelined for at least a fortnight and possibly longer.
"Maarten Stekelenburg will be doubtful for Boxing Day as he has still not trained and James McCarthy is out with a slight hamstring (injury)," Koeman said.
"That is bad news because the boy was doing well and of course I am a little bit worried about a lot of these kind of injuries, but he will be out for two to three weeks.
"We will see after two to three weeks how he is coming back and then we need to make decisions about fixtures and schedule."