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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

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 signed for Manchester United in the summer of 2017 from Everton for £75 million. Jason Cairnduff / Reuters
Romelu Lukaku signed for Manchester United in the summer of 2017 from Everton for £75 million. Jason Cairnduff / Reuters

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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Manchester United in Dubai: Pogba, Lukaku and first team squad show off skills in the sunshine

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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.

Ross Barkley joined Chelsea from Everton during the January transfer window. Jon Super / AP Photo
Ross Barkley joined Chelsea from Everton during the January transfer window. Jon Super / AP Photo

"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.