David Moyes hasn’t conceded defeat in the charge for fourth place with his latest admission, rather it was a nudge to the club that Champions League qualification can be achieved—with important additions, not just sales and replacements.
Marouane Fellaini remains atop the wish lists of many clubs, specifically those in the Premier League. However, the Belgian’s possible departure from Goodison Park and the subsequent cash return may provide the much-needed boost to send Everton onto the next level.
Does Fellaini need change? No, and he definitely won’t if Everton find themselves in the group stages of the Champions League next season. With it will surely come an increase in wages, despite him signing an extension last November. The added cash means the club will want to show the player he’s wanted, he’s needed and they want to build around him.
That’s the best case scenario for Everton—but is it likely?
I made the point in the recent past that Everton are best placed to land the final spot in the top four. In fact, Chelsea’s situation means there very well could be two spots up for grabs.
It’s not that Everton are lacking greatly to be a contender for a top spot: they have all the necessary pieces in place, the experience in the squad and the guidance from the dugout to go the distance.
Keeping Fellaini seems almost a certainty up until the summer, but will the player be willing to remain at the club beyond that point if they don’t break into the top four? Quotes have come out and have subsequently been swatted away, but maybe it’s not the worst thing if the player was moved on for the benefit of the club and necessary progression.
Ideally, the team will want to keep the player, but then serious strengthening in other areas might need to take a back seat. Buying in players like Nikica Jelavic and Kevin Mirallas is exactly the quality Everton need, but they need more.
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This isn’t a make or break season for Everton—and that’s the larger point, losing Fellaini won’t break the club. While the player has never expressed a desire to play for a “bigger” club at present, his aims seem purely Champions League based. But the implications could be huge if the club do qualify for the Champions League. The cash injection will provide the means to go out and strengthen significantly, not just with players whose price tag warrants the parting of an extra £5 million, but also through a larger market of players who want to play Champions League football regardless.
If even at that point the club find themselves in a position whereby they need to move Fellaini on, as unlikely as it sounds, the resources would certainly be in place to strengthen even beyond what the Belgian international currently brings to the team.
The team need greater depth in goal, in fact they need greater depth all round. But the most obvious factor is the need for a natural and effective creative force from the midfield.
But wherever Everton finish in the league come May, their greatest asset is a player who could potentially bring in north of £30 million. Even with the possibility of David Moyes not extending his stay at the club, is that a figure that Everton should seriously entertain?
With Fellaini in the side the team will need to keep selling peripheral figures, albeit very good players, in order to keep the ship sailing. With an injection of something in the area of £30 million, there is so much David Moyes can do in the transfer market, provided he stays.
It shouldn’t be a huge negative if the player moves on. Plenty of clubs, including franchises in America, have had to move on seemingly indispensable assets in order to take a bigger step forward. More than anything, Everton’s greatest need is to move into a position where they are regular challengers for Europe’s elite competition. Without the financial injections from outside figures, the need to sell in order to buy becomes the overriding factor.
Losing your best player seems counterproductive if your aim is as lofty as Champions League football, in fact it almost makes no sense. But Everton are not a Champions League team yet, even if they do qualify for next season’s competition. They need to buy more players who are a step up in quality and perhaps even experience at the highest level in Europe, and at the moment the means simply aren’t available.
Should the Belgian international part company with Everton, the immediate aftermath should obviously be that of disappointment. But Moyes has done an excellent job of moving on well from previous disappointments. The club are in a stronger position now than they were when Joleon Lescott moved to Manchester City, and the manager remains skilful in the transfer market in landing fantastic talents at bargain prices.
Keeping Fellaini would be a positive, and there’s very few ways you could spin it to suggest otherwise. But the opportunities could be endless if the player’s sale sparks an even greater reaction from the club. Champions League football or not, they would be in a fine position to replace, strengthen and take another important step up the ladder.