Everton manager Ronald Koeman has warned Romelu Lukaku that the club will not be forced into selling him as the saga surrounding the Belgian's future rumbles on.
Earlier this week, Lukaku suggested Everton's lack of ambition could prompt him to seek a move away from Goodison Park, where he still has two years remaining on his contract.
A new deal has been offered by Everton, which Koeman still hopes Lukaku will sign, but either way the Dutchman says the club will not allow the striker to force their hand.
"The final word is always to the board of the club and if we don't sell the player we don't sell the player," Koeman said.
"The people in the club are really strong enough to keep something and if we go to that direction it's the final decision by the board of the club."
Koeman met with Lukaku to discuss the striker's controversial interview, and says moving the club into a position to challenge for the Premier League's top four will not be a quick process.
"We spoke about this at the meeting that we had and I said it is not fair to speak about the club," Koeman said.
"What we like to show, and what also we tried to explain, is you need time. I think if we can do what we want to do for next season then I think we can make the next step, yet even if with more quality or competition in the squad or better players, doesn't mean you play Champions League football.
"Maybe Man United, Arsenal, City or Liverpool will not qualify for the Champions League and they pay money to play in the Champions League - it can be United or City or Arsenal or Liverpool.
"I don't think it will be Chelsea or Tottenham but they spend money to play Champions League and one or two of them will not play in the Champions League."
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