The Steven Pienaar conundrum

Last week there were rumours that Everton midfielder Steven Pienaar was linked with a £13 million summer move to both Tottenham and Chelsea last week. The 28 year old is desperate for Champions League football and with Everton currently nine points off the pace for fourth place in the Premier League, it is unlikely that they will achieve it this season.

The fact that Pienaar is being linked with big money moves away from Everton is a testament to how good the midfielder has been this season. Pienaar has helped fill the void left by the absence of Mikel Arteta earlier in the season and has arguably been Everton’s player of the season this year. Great technically, the South African international is fast, is a brilliant playmaker that can score goals as well as create them and also possesses excellent dribbling skills and an outstanding work ethic. This season, Pienaar has played in 26 games for Everton, scoring 4 goals and providing 3 assists. The stats may not show it, but Pienaar has produced some scintillating displays for the club this season and is one of the reasons for Everton’s excellent form in 2010, where they have beaten the likes of Man United and Chelsea and soared up the table. In fact, if the season began in January, Everton would be third in the Premiership now. Everton keeper Tim Howard has said of Pienaar:

“Steven is brilliant; he’s been a real revelation for our club. Every time we give him the ball it looks like something magic will happen.”

So will Pienaar still be an Everton player next season? Everton and David Moyes understandably want to keep him at the club and want him to sign a new contract, as Pienaar’s current deal expires in 2011. Moyes even said last week:

“Steven Pienaar is at a club that really suits him and sometimes a player has to decide what is best for them.

Everton has been good for Steven. If anybody wanted to leave, they’d be poorer for it. Most people that have left here, it’s not tended to work out for them.”

I can appreciate that at 28, Pienaar is at his peak and wants to experience Champions League football when he is at his best and Everton will not be able to guarantee him that, at least for next season. Pienaar also wants to cash in while his stock is at its highest and play for whoever offers the most money. But the midfielder is best suited to Everton’s style of play, where he can use his creativity to maximum effect, whereas if he joined the likes of Tottenham or Chelsea, he would be used mainly off the bench as an impact player, due to the quality of the midfielders at the two clubs.

Moyes is understandably keen to avoid a repeat of the Joleon Lescott situation, which clearly affected the club at the beginning of the season. The whole Lescott will he stay, will he go saga had a negative impact on the whole team and was a major factor in their heavy loss to Arsenal on the opening day of the season. If Everton want to keep Pienaar, they need him to sign a new deal before the World Cup, where his value could skyrocket as he stars for South Africa, and Everton could struggle to hold on to him if he performs well, as his head could be turned by the money and lure of the big clubs.

Everton legend Pat Van Den Hauwe, who played for the club in the 1980’s, has stated that keeping Pienaar should be Everton’s number one priority in the summer, telling the Liverpool Echo last week:

“He’s a top class player. I hope for his sake and Everton supporters that he does sign to stay for another three years.

For him to play for an English club like Everton is great, because he’s so good.”

If Pienaar fails to agree a new contract before the World Cup, Everton could wait until after the tournament and sell Pienaar for a big profit. Pienaar has been an absolute bargain since joining the club from Borussia Dortmund for £2 million in 2008 and selling him for £13 million would be good business, or even more if he has a good World Cup. Everton could then use the money to buy Landon Donovan and another player. With the emergence of young talents like Dan Gosling and Jack Rodwell at Everton and the presence of Cahill, Arteta, Osman, Fellaini and Bilyaletdinov in the midfield, this summer could see Pienaar being sold, even though he is an integral part of the side.

What do you think – should Everton do their utmost to keep Pienaar at the club or should they sell him on for a big profit?

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