Arsenal’s interest in Phil Jagielka and a subsequent £8m bid was swiftly rebuffed by the Goodison Park club earlier this year, while Pienaar’s potential suitors were similarly rejected. £8m was never going to be enough to tempt Moyes in to letting go of Jagielka, but had the Gunners offered the kind of money Manchester City parted with for Joleon Lescott the England international could now call the Emirates Stadium home, and with something in the region of £20m to work with Moyes could have found the firepower Everton are currently lacking.
A year ago, Lescott’s switch to Eastlands added around £22m to the Everton coffers, and with it Everton bolstered their ranks with Sylvain Distin, Lescott’s replacement, John Heitinga and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, three players who have enjoyed varying levels of success on Merseyside but their mere presence has been beneficial in giving Moyes more options within his squad.
James McFadden joined Birmingham City in January 2008 for £6m while that summer Andy Johnson was sold to Fulham for £13m – a huge sum for a player who netted only six league goals in his final season at Goodison. It was also considerably more than Everton themselves paid Crystal Palace for Johnson’s services, and given Johnson’s injury problems since joining Fulham – playing just 56 games in three years – appears a smart piece of business from Moyes.
The summer Johnson returned to the capital saw Everton dabble in the transfer market with some bargain buys – Louis Saha for an undisclosed fee, Lars Jacobson on a free transfer and the £2m permanent signing of Pienaar – until the window was about to come to a close, when Marouane Fellaini was signed for a record £15m, or the entire Johnson money and a little bit more. Fellaini’s time at Everton may – so far – be a tale of frustrating injuries and suspensions but some excellent performances in between suggest it was still money well spent. Fellaini is also some distance from reaching his prime years, his massive frame obscuring the fact that he is still only 23-years-old.
Everton have sometimes found the money to significantly strengthen the side without selling first in the past – Jagielka, Yakubu, Leighton Baines and Tim Howard all arrived in 2007 for more than a combined £20m with only James Beattie departing for more than £1m – but that was in a rosier financial climate for everyone, and David Moyes is again going to have to search the January sales for the answer to his side’s goal scoring trouble he so desperately needs.