Everton transfer focus – Pienaar move inches closer

David Moyes is getting closer to what would be Everton’s most popular transfer of the summer as Steven Pienaar nears a full-time return to Goodison Park.

The Liverpool Echo reported last week that new Tottenham Hotspur Head Coach Andre Villas-Boas would not stand in the way of Pienaar completing a permanent transfer to Everton, with the two clubs now needing to agree a fee for the South African. While Villas-Boas has vowed not to hold on to Pienaar against his will, Moyes has admitted he wants Pienaar back on Merseyside and the player made his feelings well known during his loan spell, the subject of money is where the deal is liable to hit a roadblock.

Spurs’ chairman Daniel Levy is known as a tough negotiator, keen to eke out every penny of profit for his club, and the obvious desire of both Everton to buy Pienaar and Pienaar to join Everton has the potential to play right into Levy’s hands. There can be no brinkmanship from Moyes on the matter – his feelings are on the record, on Everton’s official website, no less. If it was a move for another player and the price went too high Moyes could turn his attentions elsewhere, either for real or as a tool to push the deal through. That cannot happen for Pienaar.

No other player could provide the same benefits as the signing of Pienaar could to Everton. There may well be players who could succeed in the same way on the pitch, offer that same mix of dynamism and creativity that Everton sorely lacked in the 12 months Pienaar was away, but it would take a long time before that player could reach the level of popularity Pienaar enjoys. And that is why Pienaar’s transfer is so important to Moyes. In a flash the mood of Evertonians would be lightened as a favourite son returns to his spiritual home. It is a transfer as much about giving the supporters what they want as adding a player to improve the team. That Pienaar is an incisive attacking midfielder is almost, but not quite, inconsequential.

Lost in Everton’s pursuit of Pienaar is the fact that Everton are prepared to pay a somewhat substantial fee for a player who will turn 31 next season. This, and other contrary factors, such as the wages Pienaar will command, has received precious little scrutiny – the want to see Pienaar back at Everton is so strong as to have overpowered almost all rational thinking. The Guardian reported that Pienaar would earn £70,000 per week when he first left Everton. An increase upon his return is unlikely, but equally so is a reduction – Everton paid a similar sum to Mikel Arteta before he joined Arsenal, and Marouane Fellaini’s new contract signed in late 2011 made him one of the club’s highest-paid players. Pienaar is unlikely to accept anything less than parity.

Yet, there can still be little doubt this is a good move for Everton. Pienaar’s connection with the Goodison crowd is the rare sort – the club and the player suit each other perfectly, as sometimes inexplicably is the case. For that reason, as well as Pienaar’s undoubted ability, he is worth his weight in gold.

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