Opinion: Koeman's comments on Lukaku's potential are only what a lot of Everton fans are thinking

Another international break and once again the future of Romelu Lukaku is making the headlines. This time it is not the player or his agent's comments attracting the media interest, but in fact the Everton manager.

Ronald Koeman told Belgian newspaper HLN that the striker would need to leave Goodison Park to fulfil his potential, admitting Lukaku's potential is "greater and higher" than his current club.

Was the Blues boss right to publicly suggest the club's star striker's potential is greater than Everton? After all, Koeman's comments are only what a lot of Everton fans are thinking.

Everton fans know that Lukaku's Everton exit is inevitable

Deep down everyone connected to Everton will know that the day will come when Lukaku will leave the club; there will only be a few Everton supporters, who in their hearts, believe Lukuku will remain at Goodison for the rest of his career.

Koeman was not being disrespectful towards the Blues or showing himself as uncommitted to the cause of returning Everton to Europe when he said that Lukaku would need to leave Everton to fulfil his potential. The former Southampton boss was just being honest and knows that it is going to take time before Everton can match Lukaku's ambition and potential of competing with the best, as shown by their recent 5-0 defeat to Chelsea.

It can be easy to forget how young Lukaku still is. Last month he scored his 100th career league goal in his 230th appearance. When cup competitions are added in, his tally stands at 126 goals in 288 outings, with a further 17 netted in his 52 caps for Belgium. It is a mightily impressive record for a player who will turn 24 in the final week of the current campaign in May.

The fact this is Lukaku's sixth season in the Premier League makes it seem like he is older than 23, but he is still only at the beginning of his career and only a few people will believe (in their hearts, at least) that the Belgian would remain at Goodison Park for the rest of his career, especially in the modern world of football.

In fact, many Everton supporters expected Lukaku to leave in the summer after the player stated his desire to play Champions League football earlier this year. But, despite attracting interest from a number of clubs including Chelsea, Manchester United and Paris Saint Germain, the Belgian agreed in August to remain at Goodison Park for another season.

Make no mistake, Koeman nor anyone associated with the club wants to lose Lukaku, but the striker's future beyond next summer remains unclear and many Everton fans will be fearing the worst: what appears to be the striker's inevitable exit.

Can Everton match Lukaku's ambition and potential?

Lukaku has stated his desire to play Champions League football and, as Koeman acknowledged, the 23-year-old certainly has the potential to play for one of Europe's top clubs. Many Everton fans hoped that the Toffees could make Lukaku's ambitions of Champions League football a reality.

Lukaku's progression, though, has not been matched by the Toffees. The Belgian scored 17 goals in his first season while on loan at Goodison Park, before scoring 20 goals the following season after joining the Blues for a club-record fee of £28million from Chelsea in July 2014. Last season Lukaku scored 25 goals in all competitions, including 18 in the Premier League, but that was not enough to stop Everton recording a second successive 11th place finish in the Premier League.

In luring Ronald Koeman from Southampton, the Toffees could not have made a more forceful statement; a sign of their ambition. However, this ambition has yet to have been seen on the pitch this season; if anything, the size of the task ahead has been highlighted. Everton won four of their first five league games for the first time since 1978, but Koeman's honeymoon period was soon over as five games without a win followed.

A win against West Ham United looked the put the Toffees back on track, but a 5-0 defeat against Chelsea last time out highlighted the size of the task ahead for Koeman and Everton if they are going to mix with the Premier League's elite and fulfil Lukaku's ambition and potential of competing with the best.