Everton latest: Lukaku hails loan spell as Martinez eyes £6m midfielder swoop

Jagielka

All the latest news, views and transfer rumours from Goodison Park...

Everton will still hope to land the signature of striker Romelu Lukaku on a permanent deal after the Chelsea youngster impressed during a season-long loan spell on Merseyside. Tottenham and Valencia are also believed to be in the race for his signature, but the Toffees have been handed a boost after the Belgian international admitted that his spell at Goodison Park was the best of his career.

"I am absolutely convinced that moving to Everton was the best step in my career," he said. "When you feel everything is working out, it makes you so relaxed and happy as a player in big matches."

"Let me say that I am now the complete striker. I never thought I was a target man, a No.9 who could play with his back to the goal. I always wanted to run at defenders. That is still a great quality, but now I can do both," added Lukaku. "I love playing as a real striker in the box now. Technically I have been improving as a player. I play for a manager who makes his team play really good football and I don't have to chase the ball all the time."

For now, the attention turns to this summer's World Cup, with a number of Everton stars participating in the tournament. Whilst Tim Howard, Leighton Baines and Kevin Mirallas are established internationals with their respective nations, midfielder Ross Barkley is growing into a bigger role for England, and team mate Phil Jagielka has praised the 20-year-old for his displays so far.

"From the moment when Ross was about 14 you could see the talent. If you look at what he has got, he has a good physique, good in the air, right food, and more importantly loves the game of football," said Jagielka.

"As far as I'm concerned, and we've all seen it, he has got the whole package. We don’t want to put too much pressure on him but if you ask people for their opinions of him, they will be positive," continued the defender.

Despite interest from bigger clubs, Barkley appears set to stay with the Toffees, but there are still question marks over the future of Gareth Barry. If manager Roberto Martinez can't land the ex-Manchester City on a permanent deal, then it's believed that he will make a move to sign compatriot Ruben Pardo from Real Sociedad. The 21-year-old has impressed in San Sebastian, and Martinez is reportedly eyeing up a £6m swoop for the midfielder.

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