Farhad Moshiri claims 'voodoo' message reason for Romelu Lukaku's departure
Iranian majoristy shareholder tells AGM Belgian striker was set to sign new Everton deal before dramatic U-turn
Romelu Lukaku refused to sign a new contract at Everton after a voodoo message told him to join Chelsea, according to the club's major shareholder Farhad Moshiri.
The Belgium international was in a meeting in March at which he was scheduled to sign a new contract - around the time his agent Mino Raiola claimed the deal was 99.9 per cent done - when the U-turn happened.
"We offered him a better deal than Chelsea and his agent came to Finch Farm to sign the contract," Moshiri told Everton's AGM.
"Robert [Elstone, 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."
Iranian billionaire Moshiri, who has pumped £150 million (Dh744m) of his own money into the club to clear debts, said the Toffees offered the striker an "unbelievable" amount of money to stay, understood to be £140,000 a week.
"The issue with Romelu was not financial. As long as I am major shareholder financial issues are irrelevant.
"I wasted two summers to keep him: first summer with his agent, him and his family we managed to keep him.
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"Last summer we offered him a better deal than Chelsea, whatever they offered we matched but he just didn't want to stay.
"If I tell you what we offered him you wouldn't believe it but they offered him a better deal."
Lukaku, who is big friends with Manchester United playmaker Paul Pogba, eventually moved to Old Trafford in July for an initial £75 million after Jose Mourinho caught his former side napping over the transfer.
"I got close to Rom, I like the boy, he's a good boy, and I used all my charm to keep him and I flatly failed," Moshiri added.
"Ultimately we lost money. To buy Rom now would be £120 million. The issue was his brain had gone. He was in LA [with Pogba] 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."
Moshiri was similarly unsuccessful in trying to keep boyhood Everton fan Ross Barkley, who moved to Chelsea last week after backing out of a £35 million deal on deadline day in August.
"I didn't spent as much time to keep Ross as I did Rom," added Moshiri.
"When it got to the two years I met his agent and said 'We need to extend the contract'. He said 'You need to get Ronald Koeman' and we got Koeman.
"He then said [John] Stones was his friend and he should be allowed to leave and he left.
"We got into the last year [of his contract] and again we didn't want him to go.
"Bill [Kenwright, Everton chairman] miraculously got an offer for £35 million for a player who was injured and then he changed his mind.
"Sam [Allardyce] spoke to him and he didn't want to stay."
Plans for the club's new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock are progressing but so are costs with Kenwright stating the development, which the club hope to be playing in by 2022, would cost £500 million.
"Half-a billion is the estimate. Half-a-billion is what we are dealing with," he said.
Updated: January 10, 2018 12:15 PM