Everton Transfer Focus – Jelavic future thrown into more doubt by Hamburg claim

If the arrival of Arouna Kone at Everton raised questions over the future of Nikica Jelavic, then the claims by Bundesliga side Hamburg that the Toffees are willing to part with the Croatia international have only exacerbated matters.

The doubt over Jelavic’s continued presence at Everton is largely a result of his poor form last season. On the surface, a return of seven league goals in 37 appearances is a decent contribution – certainly nothing sensational but a tidy total – yet it came in the shadow of the phenomenal start Jelavic made to his Everton career, between January 2012 and the end of the season.

After moving from Rangers, Jelavic netted 11 goals in 16 appearances – nine in 13 in the league – and looked likely to score any time Everton worked the ball into the box. He was sharp, his first touch was excellent and his movement intelligent – all qualities that disappeared for most of last season.

Jelavic started the campaign in decent form, netting in the second game of the season, a 3-1 win at Aston Villa, and scoring for Croatia against Macedonia shortly after. He then scored three goals in two games – a brace against Southampton and one at Wigan in late September and early October – but then scored just two more before New Year.

The New Year didn’t bring a new start, either. Jelavic was on target only twice between January and May, and one of those was in the FA Cup against lower league Cheltenham Town; the other was a heavily deflected effort against Manchester City. Compared to his form a year earlier, it was like watching a different player.

Numerous theories were put forward as to why Jelavic was struggling. David Moyes was blamed in some quarters for making the striker work too hard outside the penalty area – running the channels and closing down opposition midfielders – and those that pointed the finger at the now-former manager also pointed to the way in which the likes of Andy Johnson and Yakubu tailed off after prolific starts to their Everton careers.

It was also suggested that the presence of Marouane Fellaini in the supporting role – rather than Tim Cahill, who occupied the slot upon Jelavic’s arrival – was a factor. Fellaini was certainly the dominant player in their partnership, the Belgian becoming Everton’s talisman and the player around whom much of the team’s approach play was centred. Fellaini often combined with Leighton Baines and Steven Pienaar to work the ball into a better position, encouraging a slow build-up, with the theory being Jelavic preferred the ball played into the penalty area sooner.

Massively raised expectations and the resultant pressure was another suggestion put forward but most likely, the true answer is a combination of all possibilities, in some small way. Victor Anichebe eventually became Moyes’ preferred starting centre-forward and the burly Nigerian performed well.

Martinez has barely had the chance to see Jelavic kick a ball in anger but he does have an experienced centre-forward in Kone to lead the line should Jelavic be sold. If Everton do accept Hamburg’s offer, though, it may not be that the new manager has decided to cut his losses with Jelavic, but simply that Everton cannot afford to turn down good money for a player no longer guaranteed a place in the starting XI.

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