Romelu Lukaku, the Manchester United striker, plans to seek legal advice over claims from Farhad Moshiri, the Everton owner, that he chose to leave the Premier League club after receiving a “voodoo message”.
Moshiri told a shareholders’ meeting on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) that Lukaku turned down the offer of a contract at Goodison Park last summer after receiving the message “on a pilgrimage to Africa or somewhere”.
According to Moshiri, the Belgian had wanted to join Chelsea at the time, but ended up moving to Manchester United for £75 million ($140 million).
Lukaku’s representatives flatly rejected Moshiri’s claims, insisting the player was a Catholic who did not believe in “voodoo” and that he left Everton to further his career after having “no confidence” in Moshiri’s plans.
A spokesman for Lukaku said: “Romelu’s decision had nothing to do with voodoo. He distances himself from these beliefs and this statement and will now see what judicial steps can be taken in relation to them.
“Romelu is very Catholic and voodoo is not part of his life or his beliefs. He simply had no faith in Everton and no confidence in Mr Moshiri’s project. That is why he did not want to sign on any condition. He wanted to make the next step in his career.”
In March last year, Mino Raiola, Lukaku’s agent, claimed a new deal to stay at Everton was “99.99 per cent done” but the player’s position changed. Chelsea bid for the striker and were favourites to re-sign the player they had previously sold to Everton. But United ended up gatecrashing the deal.
Moshiri made his claims at the end of Everton’s annual general meeting after being asked by a shareholder why the club sold Lukaku without a replacement lined up.
Moshiri replied: “With Romelu, I wasted two summers trying to keep him. We managed to keep him for another year.
Then, last summer, we offered him a better deal than Chelsea. Whatever they offered, we matched but he just didn’t want to stay.
He wanted to play for Chelsea. I can assure you we tried everything to keep Rom. If I tell you what we offered him you wouldn’t believe it. We offered him a better deal than Chelsea and his agent came to sign the contract.
“Robert [Elstone, Everton’s chief executive] was there, everything was in place, there were a few reporters outside, then in the meeting Rom called his mother.
“He said he was on a pilgrimage in Africa or somewhere and he had a voodoo and he got the message that he needs to go to Chelsea.
“I got close to Rom, he’s a good boy, and I used all my charm to keep him and I flatly failed. This is unfortunately the world.
“Ultimately, we lost money. To buy Rom now would be £120 million ($225 million). The issue was his brain had gone.
“He was in LA and he wouldn’t come back. It happens. Alex Ferguson got another year out of [Cristiano] Ronaldo but then he was off. [Luis] Suarez had to bite a few players to get off [from Liverpool]…”