After his 15 goals in 31 Premier League appearances helped Everton to a fifth-place finish, Roberto Martinez has been hoping to complete a permanent deal for Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku this summer.
Deemed expendable under Jose Mourinho after the £35 million arrival of Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa, the striker is said to be open to a return to Goodison Park but, with several other top European sides courting his signature, Martinez has admitted that a potential move is ‘up in the air.’
With the likes of Wolfsburg, Juventus and even Real Madrid linked to his services, it could well transpire that Everton miss out on their number one transfer target, leaving a hole up front still to fill.
If that scenario unfolds then Martinez would be forced to turn his attention elsewhere, in which case here are five options who could prove solid alternatives to the Belgian international.
Carlos Bacca (Sevilla)
The Colombian was voted the best La Liga signing of 2013-14 after scoring 14 goals in 35 games during his debut campaign at Sevilla, with the club’s financial issues fuelling rumours of a potential summer departure.
Everton have been linked with a move for the World Cup veteran over recent months but, much like Lukaku, various other top European sides are also said to be in the hunt for the €20 million-rated frontman.
Wilfried Bony (Swansea City)
After an impressive 16-goal season in his first go-around at the Premier League, the former Vitesse striker has been one of the most talked about commodities of this summer’s transfer window, igniting interest from both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur.
Martinez would surely love to add the 25-year-old Ivorian to his squad if a deal for Lukaku fails to go through, but a reported £20 million-plus asking price could prove a potential stumbling block.
John Guidetti (Manchester City)
Everton have previously been linked with a loan move for the 22-year-old Swede during the past two summers, following a season-long stint at Feyenoord in 2011-12 which saw him net 20 goals in 23 Eredivisie games.
Having only made one single League Cup appearance for Manchester City during his six seasons at the club, the one-time capped international spent the second-half of 2013-14 on loan at Stoke, but made just six substitute cameos under former manager Mark Hughes.
Still a promising prospect, however, Guidetti would be an intriguing addition to the squad, though whether it would be wise for Martinez to bank on him leading the line as his number one option, given his recent Premier League struggles, is another matter to ponder.
Jay Rodriguez (Southampton)
As Southampton’s remarkable summer exodus continues, Rodriguez could be the latest name heading for the exit door, with Tottenham again one of the clubs Everton would have to compete with to land the England international.
Ex-boss David Moyes had tried to sign the 25-year-old from Burnley before his £7 million move to the South Coast in June 2012, but whether Martinez would be able to compete with the allure of Spurs, where he would reunite with former Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino, remains to be seen.
Lacina Traore (Monaco)
The towering Ivorian joined Everton on loan for the second-half of last season but a nagging hamstring injury, aggravated during a February fixture, saw him ruled out for the rest of his spell with the Toffees after just two appearances.
Nevertheless, Martinez remains intrigued by the 24-year-old’s undoubted potential and, in his efforts to beat off interest from West Ham United, has been working on another loan move for the past few weeks.
A deal has yet to materialise for the well-travelled marksman, who only joined Monaco during the winter transfer window for $14 million, but he stands out as perhaps the most feasible option of the five.
Which striker should Everton go after if their Lukaku bid fails?