Farhad Moshiri has made the extraordinary claim that Romelu Lukaku decided to leave Everton after a witch doctor advised him to join Chelsea.
The Belgium international had been in line to sign a new contract, worth in the region of £140,000 per week, but suddenly backtracked last March and told the club he wanted to leave in the summer.
He subsequently moved to Manchester United in deal worth £90million but Moshiri, Everton’s major shareholder, gave a remarkable insight at the club’s annual AGM into why Lukaku performed an about-turn after receiving advice.
‘If I tell you what we offered him you wouldn’t believe it but they offered him a better deal,’ said Moshiri, during a night on which it emerged that the project for Everton’s proposed new stadium at Bramley Dock on the banks of the River Mersey will cost £500m.
‘His agent came to the training ground and was about to sign and the player was on a pilgrimage in Africa and he had a voodoo or something and he had to sign for Chelsea.
‘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.’
Moshiri, who rarely speaks in public, was scathing when he explained why Ross Barkley moved to Chelsea last week.
Everton managed to secure a £15million fee for the England international, who had six months remaining on his contract, but the manner of his departure left the Iranian billionaire with a sour taste.
Everton boss Sam Allardyce said the club had to cash in on Lukaku when they had the chance
‘I used all my charm on Ross but unfortunately I failed,’ said Moshiri. ‘(Luis) Suarez had to bite a few players to get off! The most painful was Ross Barkley, Last year I said we had three stars: Stones, Barley and Romelu. Ross was the one, the local boy, we thought we wouldn’t lose.
‘When it got to the two years I met his agent and and said we need to extend the contract. He said ‘You need to get Ronald Koeman’ and we got Koeman. He then said Stones was his friend and he should be allowed to leave and he left.
‘We got into the last year and again we didn’t want him to go. Bill miraculously got an offer for £35m for a player who was injured and then he changed his mind. Sam (Allardyce) spoke to him and he didn’t want to stay.’