With a reported £10m Arsenal bid for Phil Jagielka summarily rejected by Everton, David Moyes has firmly signalled his intention to hold on to his most important players this summer. Adding to their ranks, however, is another matter and one almost entirely out of the manager’s control.
Moyes has targeted the likes of Wigan Athletic midfielder Charles N’Zogbia and Reading striker Shane Long in an effort to bring much needed pace into his midfield and potency into his attack, but each player’s substantial price tag has left the Scot frustrated. Selling an in-demand player such as Jagielka is one possible solution – although £10m was never likely to be acceptable for the England international – but Moyes would then run in to further problems, such as how to replace the departing star. Everton have usually given short shrift to such sell-to-buy practices unless the player agitates for the move, in the case of Joleon Lescott, or is deemed surplus to requirements, like Andrew Johnson. Jagielka has shown no sign of wanting to move to the Emirates Stadium and, far from being surplus to requirements, is one of Moyes’ most trusted players, a category Leighton Baines also belongs to, which has fended off interest in the left-back from Manchester City and Liverpool.
The case of Jack Rodwell is a little less clear-cut. Rodwell has often been linked to Manchester United and Chelsea, with this summer no exception. The 20-year-old’s chance of a move to Old Trafford diminished greatly, however, by the champions’ purchase of Phil Jones from Blackburn Rovers, while Andre Villas-Boas has made few moves in the transfer market as he begins rebuilding the side at Stamford Bridge. Rodwell would benefit from regular first-team football more than a transfer at this stage in his career, something he is more likely to get from his current employers than his potential suitors, but, if Everton were to sacrifice one of their valuable players, Rodwell would be a possibility, damaging perhaps the team’s future but not its present. Rodwell, a highly-regarded talent inside and out of the club, made only 20 appearances during an injury-hit last season and while his departure would be a disappointment it would not be a disaster, at least not until the midfielder fulfils his potential, yet both the player and the manager see Rodwell’s immediate future at Everton.
Marouane Fellaini’s future is less clear than that of Rodwell. The Belgian has long attracted interest from Chelsea and has only two years remaining on his contract as of this summer. At 23 the midfielder’s best years should lie ahead of him but whether or not he spends them at Goodison Park will likely be decided soon – if a new, long-term contract is agreed then Fellaini should remain at Everton for the foreseeable future. If not, then Everton may be tempted to cash in on the graceful ball-winner while they can, with the memory of Steven Pienaar’s protracted departure in January still fresh. A £15m fee has been mooted – the same price Everton paid Standard Liege for the player in 2008 – and that figure is someway short of Everton’s valuation of the player, but his contract situation is a mitigating factor. Everton have offered the player a new deal, and word from the player’s camp is encouraging, but there has been no further announcement from either side since the spring.
Keeping Fellaini is part of Everton’s future plans but adding to his ilk may prove even more difficult – the desire is there but the funds are not. N’Zogbia, also subject of interest from Aston Villa and Sunderland, with his darting pace and left-footed dribbling would bring the balance to Everton’s team lacking from Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, the ponderous Russia winger who has never impressed for any length of time at Goodison Park. Reading’s Long, an industrious forward who troubled Everton during the Royals’ FA Cup victory at Goodison last season, would, on paper, compliment the speedy Jermaine Beckford well, but money dictates the Republic of Ireland international is destined to go elsewhere. Nicklas Bendtner, on loan from Arsenal, is a strong possibility, although wages of £50,000 a week would also bring that move into question.
The pursuit of Long and Bendtner indicates Moyes has made a centre-forward a priority, and the arrival of one will largely depend on the departure of another, Yakubu, who can leave for around £4m. Yakubu’s compatriot Joseph Yobo, Moyes’ first signing as Everton manager, is available for the same price with Leicester City and Fenerbache their likely respective destinations. Their sales would generate somewhere around £8m but even that sum might not be enough for the Toffees to compete with their rivals in the transfer market.
James Vaughan FWD – Norwich City, £2.5m
Charles N’Zogbia MID – Wigan Athletic
Shane Long FWD – Reading
Nicklas Bendtner FWD – Arsenal