Everton Club Focus – Toffees reject Jagielka bid and eye up Lucho Gonzalez

Is Everton’s summer about to heat up? After a tepid start to pre-season with little concrete transfer activity and rumbling discontent among an increasingly vocal section of supporters, the end of July could herald the start of the Toffees’ transfer campaign. A £10m bid for Phil Jagielka from Arsenal has been rejected while David Moyes has been linked with a move for Lucho Gonzalez, the Argentina midfielder currently with Olympique Marseille.

The Gonzalez story, which has Everton battling Chelsea for the 30-year-old’s signature, must rank as one of the most surprising, and, therefore, unlikely of the summer, so far at least. Gonzalez cost his French employers around £15m two years ago, and even factoring in the player’s age and his contract running down since then, and Marseille Chairman Jean-Claude Dassier confirming Gonzalez wants to leave, he would appear well outside Everton’s meagre transfer budget. Dassier reportedly added in an interview with French publication L’Equipe that Gonzalez would have to find a club before the end of June that was willing to meet his £10m asking price. With June long gone and Gonzalez still a Marseille player, quite what the asking price is now – and whether Everton could ever have afforded it in the first place – remains to be seen.

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Money aside, midfield would appear to be the one area Everton do not need to improve – providing the current crop is not diminished by the departures of Jack Rodwell or Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian returned to action in Everton’s first friendly of the summer last week but has been the subject of interest by Chelsea, and with Fellaini’s contract expiring in two years and little sign of an extension – although equally little sign of an impasse – a substantial offer could tempt an Everton hierarchy burned somewhat by Steven Pienaar. However, Everton were resolute in their refusal to sell Pienaar regardless of his contractual situation until the South African forced the move himself by admitting his desire to leave six months before his contract expired, and a similar stance may be taken with Fellaini if the situation degenerates to that point. It must be stressed that there is little sign of that happening yet, but with Fellaini six years younger than Pienaar and therefore worth a considerable amount more, letting his contract run so far down is a far riskier strategy that stands to cost Everton far more in a potential transfer fee. Jagielka, meanwhile, signed a new contract in March and has shown no desire to leave, even after Everton rejected Arsenal’s original offer 12 months ago.

While rumours of outgoings are more dominant than rumours of incomings, Everton have not been entirely passive in the latter market. Much rests of the futures of Joseph Yobo and Yakubu, each free to leave the club for the right price, but loan moves for Nicklas Bendtner and Sergio Canales have been strong possibilities, with the former still with a chance of going ahead, and offers reportedly made for Charles N’Zogbia of Wigan Athletic and Shane Long of Reading, the latter particularly impressive in an efficient manner when the Royals dumped Everton out of the FA Cup last season. The saga of Everton’s summer is going to run until the very last seconds of the transfer window.

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