- Premier League
Lukaku: I want to emulate Ronaldo and Rooney
Romelu Lukaku has insisted he needs to be playing Champions League football next year in order to follow in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.
Lukaku's future is far from certain with the striker on loan from Chelsea at Everton. Having impressed in the first half of the season with eight in his first 10 games for the club, the goals have dried up in recent weeks with just one in his last 10 outings, with Everton sitting five points off fourth-placed Liverpool in sixth.
The striker had previously talked about extending his stay at Goodison next season if Everton finish in the top four.
But now Lukaku, 21, appears to be hinting at a return to Chelsea with Champions League football more likely at Stamford Bridge, as he aims to emulate the feats of Rooney and Real Madrid star Ronaldo - who both made their bows for Manchester United in the Champions League aged 18.
"I'm turning 21, I've been a professional for five years already. It is time," Lukaku told Belgian daily Het Laatste Nieuws.
"It is high time that I play in the Champions League. It is the next step I need in my development. Full stop.
"Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney were experienced already at that level when they were just 23-24 years old. I want to play Champions League football now. I must now show I'm ready for it.
"I still have two years on my contract and I know Chelsea follow my development. In the end it depends on what the manager thinks about me."
Lukaku has been at odds with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho over the reasons for his leaving Stamford Bridge on loan for a second successive campaign following last season's spell at West Brom.
Mourinho has previously insisted it is up to Lukaku to publicly explain his exit, but the striker claims his manager fully understood his need for first-team football.
"After the season I had at West Brom [17 goals in 35 appearances], it was important that as a young player I kept developing. That means to play," Lukaku added.
"To me there is difference between playing in 20 or 45 matches a season and scoring 10 or 20 goals. Mourinho eventually understood that.
"If I can be better than I was last season, what is then holding me back? Then it will be time to play Champions League football, which is what I want to do."
Lukaku is currently undergoing rehabilitation on an ankle injury in Belgium, but expects to return on March 1 for Everton's home clash with West Ham.