David Moyes has constantly re-iterated his determination to keep all of his best players and what little transfer money he has had is tied up in expensive long term deals for the likes of Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill and Leighton Baines.
Rumours over the weekend suggested that Manchester United have agreed a £25million deal for Jack Rodwell.
Though just paper talk for now, considering this story has been bubbling under the surface for months now so I am starting to fear it has credibility.
With Marouane Fellaini’s contract having just two years to run and his father making repeated noises about a move to Chelsea, is it time for Everton to sell two of their priciest assets in order to move forward?
But faced with largely the same side that did so well in the second half of last season staleness has spread over the squad this year, resulting in some laboured performances lacking in ideas, spirit and inspiration.
Under-performing players continue to start as there is no-one else to come in while promising youngsters like Seamus Coleman have been over played, meaning they are now exhausted with two months of the season still to play.
New players can freshen up a squad, reinvigorate the existing players and boost the morale of the fans. Maybe it is a time for Moyes to abandon his ‘keep what he has got' policy and, in the absence of a billionaire willing to bankroll a summer spend, take a step back in order to make two steps forward?
Fellaini is the next player due for contract talks with the five-year-deal he signed in September 2008 entering its final 24 months this summer.
But in this modern era of player power this is the stage of a player’s contract where they can pretty much dictate to the club what they want to do. If Fellaini wants to leave he can slap down an ultimatum, threatening to run down his contract a la Pienaar, and therefore leave the club on a free transfer in two years.
Everton simply cannot afford to let more players leave for next to nothing so should the Belgian show resistance to signing new deal we may have to cash in on him this summer.
Rodwell is perhaps a different case. He is signed to a long-term deal and having come through the youth ranks at Everton has more affinity with the club then players brought in from overseas.
However, this United link simply won’t go away and rather than player power forcing us towards a transfer I think it’s the banks.
The release of the club’s accounts last month revealed a worrying increase in debt that while still manageable, is severely restricting Moyes’ ability to compete in the transfer market. The club is also in the worrying position whereby the banks could ask for their money back at any time (unlikely but still possible, we are in a recession after all).
If the club sold Rodwell for £25million they could ask for at least £20million for Fellaini, given he has improved significantly following his £15million move three years ago.
That £45million could then go towards a serious squad overhaul, as well as chipping away at some of the debt.
If you consider we have a number of players who are also set to leave in the summer – Yakubu, Joseph Yobo, James Vaughan and possibly Jonny Heitinga - the funds are there for Moyes to raise if necessary.
It is, of course, a massive gamble and one than rests on Moyes’ continued ability to find diamonds in the rough of the Championship in the mould of Tim Cahill or Phil Jagielka.
The Scot tends to have more success in the transfer market when spending smaller amounts anyway – Billy and Heitinga two examples of big money moves that haven't quite worked out.
With the sales of Rodwell, Fellaini, Yakubu, Vaughan and Yobo a figure of £55million plus is not unrealistic.
I am heading into Football Manager territory a bit here now but if we can buy five direct replacements i.e. two midfielders, two strikers and a defender – for seven million each (I am being generous there given Jagielka cost £4million, Cahill £1.5million and Lescott £5million) that is a £35million outlay, leaving £20million for the banks. Hopefully the wage bill will be largely the same given the departures.
It is a risk given there simply may not be the players out there to come in and it is easy for me to ‘sell this player, buy that one..’ It is a lot more complex than that.
However, given our relative decline this season the ‘stick’ option Moyes had doggedly clung too last summer clearly isn’t working anymore.
And with Bill Kenwright still grimly searching for an investor –with none of the horizon – it may be time for Moyes to ‘twist’.