News began breaking yesterday that the 30 year-old Dutchman will likely be on his way to Fiorentina when the January transfer window opens. Heitinga's desire for first team football was no secret during the end of the David Moyes era, and he appears to have fallen even farther down the depth chart since the arrival of Roberto Martinez. The manager seemed to confirm there was some validity to the rumors in his comments to evertonfc.com today:
"Johnny is a top footballer and we can understand. If he doesn't play many minutes, we'll try to see if we can help him in January....We all want Johnny to play and participate more on the pitch but that's something we will have to assess over the next few weeks." - Roberto Martinez
If Johnny Heitinga does end up moving in January, what does that mean for Everton? Heitinga appears to have fallen behind the youngster John Stones on the center-back depth chart, and Antolin Alcaraz is near a return to first team football as well, so it seems quite plausible that Heitinga would barely be asked to play any minutes in the center of defense at all going forward. Heitinga does provide some emergency cover at central midfield, particularly with Darron Gibson facing a season long layoff, but barring an injury to Gareth Barry, James McCarthy, Leon Osman, or Ross Barkley, the likelihood of Heitinga ever seeing minutes at that position is minuscule. There is no indication as of yet as to how much money selling the Dutchman would bring in, but at the very least, it would be good to be rid of the first team level salary the club pays Heitinga, given that he hasn't played a single minute in the league thus far.
Certainly Heitinga will see this move as his last attempt to play his way back onto the Netherlands squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Johnny will certainly be eager to be given a chance to redeem himself on the international stage, after his red card in the 2010 World Cup championship match ultimately derailed his country's World Cup aspirations.
What do you think? Is Heitinga still a piece worth keeping, or should Martinez be happy to let him go? What's a fair price for the Dutchman? Have your say below.