For a player David Moyes signed on a free transfer 12 months ago, that sum would be a significant profit, yet, considering the dearth of strikers already available to the manager, the bare transfer kitty with which to fund additions and the strides made by Beckford in his time at Goodison Park, it is far from certain what the outcome of the Midlands side’s pursuit of the former Leeds United forward will be.
After a rough start in Merseyside, where Beckford initially struggled to life in the Premier League having spent most of his career in League One before leaping up the divisions last summer, the 27-year-old improved drastically as the season wore on. Where at first his touch was heavy, his runs ill-timed and his positioning questionable, by the season’s end the turnaround was, if not quite total, then certainly impressive, with a crowning glory coming in Everton’s final game of the season, where Beckford scored a stunning solo goal as the Toffees beat Chelsea 1-0. Ending the campaign with 10 goals to his name – eight in the league – was another feather in Beckford’s cap.
Yet, despite the improvement in Beckford’s game, if Louis Saha is fit then the Frenchman is likely to start as the lone striker in Everton’s 4-4-1-1 formation. A big if it may be – Saha made 26 Everton appearances last season to Beckford’s 38, and rarely did they start together – but there is a definite step up in class when the former Manchester United striker spearheads Everton’s attack. Saha is, however, 33, and with a history of injuries it must be wondered how much longer he will continue at Premier League level. Beckford, 28 in December, then has a lot more football in front of him and, if last season is any guide, still has room to develop his game further, but as long as Saha remains capable of Premier League football, Beckford will remain in limbo, not quite first choice but more than a squad player.
Moyes has actively attempted to shift one of his other strikers this summer, Yakubu, rather ironically to Leicester after the Nigerian spent the second half of last season on loan under Sven Goran Eriksson. Eriksson has, thus far, chosen not to pursue a permanent deal for Yakubu, but selling the ex-Portsmouth striker would still be Moyes’ preferred move, with a switch to Turkey also heavily rumoured. A potential £3m is unlikely to tempt Moyes into selling a player in his plans – whereas Yakubu is in dire need of a fresh start – but if the manager has identified a target who can improve what he already has for that sort of price, a deal could be done before the end of the transfer window. Such is life at Everton at the moment, that, for the right price, almost anyone could be available.