Martínez quick to defend Lukaku as Anelka denies charge

West Brom striker requests a personal hearing from FA after being charged over ‘quenelle’ gesture

 Everton’s Romelu Lukaku (right) and West Bromwich Albion’s Nicolas Anelka. Photograph: PA Wire

Everton’s Romelu Lukaku (right) and West Bromwich Albion’s Nicolas Anelka. Photograph: PA Wire

Thu, Jan 23, 2014, 21:11

Roberto Martínez has leapt to the defence of Romelu Lukaku, after Everton’s on-loan striker offered support to Nicolas Anelka over his ‘quenelle’ gesture.

Anelka has informed the Football Association of his intention, as expected, to contest the charge brought against him, which followed the celebration after his first goal for West Bromwich Albion at West Ham United on December 28th.

In a video now taken down from the club’s website, Lukaku, who apologised for any offence caused on Thursday, suggested Anelka was a player fans wanted to see and should not receive a ban for what he did at West Ham. “He is my idol,” the Belgian forward said.

“Romelu is only a young man, and sometimes after playing a game the emotions are still high,” Martínez said. “He wanted to present some support to a player he has admired from an early age, but he never supported the gesture, those views or the meaning of those views. There has been a big, big misunderstanding about this issue but it is not for us to solve that. The quicker the FA and the player deal with it the better.

“Because then everyone will have clarity. Romelu wanted to support an ex-teammate but he is not the sort of person to endorse any sort of conflicting view which could be disrespectful to anyone. It’s one thing supporting an individual and something else to support a gesture.”

Lukaku said in a statement: “I want to make clear that I was supporting a friend and player I have admired since I was a child. I apologise if I caused any offence with my comments as this was never my intention.

“ There has been a misunderstanding and I want to clarify that I was in no way endorsing the gesture made by Nicolas.”

Martínez is still confident of tying Leighton Baines to a long-term deal and will open talks over new contracts with Ross Barkley and Ireland’s Séamus Coleman after the transfer window, but says Aiden McGeady and Lacina Traoré will be the only arrivals at Goodison this month. “We had two targets, a striker and Aiden McGeady, and we think we have done very good business,” he said.

“The deal for Traoré is not quite completed yet, we’ve done the work permit but there are a few other issues to go through so there’s nothing to announce at the moment.”

Monaco’s willingness to let Traoré leave may be tested by an injury to Radamel Falcao, which could put the striker out of the World Cup, and may place the Everton target on standby, though Martínez has not heard anything from the French club and does not anticipate problems. “We hope it won’t affect their decision to let Lacina go out on loan,” he said. “It shouldn’t, because a decision has already been made on what the player needs for his development. Lacina himself is not fit to play right now, he has a bit of a muscle injury.

“He is OK generally because we had the medical and checked him over but it would be too early to play him straight away. As things stand we have our representatives in Paris trying to sort out his visa, once we get that we can welcome him as an Everton player.”

Guardian Service

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