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Everton's Nearly Men

Fabrizio Ravanelli arrives at Bellfield before his aborted transfer from Middlesbrough in 1997
Fabrizio Ravanelli arrives at Bellfield before his aborted transfer from Middlesbrough in 1997

As the transfer window remains as open as can be, and whilst clubs such as Swansea City, West Ham United, Stoke City and Norwich build upon their squads for their assault on the coming campaign, the board of Everton FC continue to pull down the blinds so that David Moyes can't let anyone climb through it. Its becoming frustrating.  We have a very strong 13 or 14 players, granted, but already we've lost Coleman for the first few games, Arteta's pre-season has been hindered, Osman has felt his hamstring a bit and all of a sudden you find square pegs in round holes, kids on the bench, and Victor Anichebe in the starting XI.

Over the years, the White Sox of Walton have been linked with player after player.  In some cases, we have been a parker pen short of having players on the books before them being snatched from our grasp.  Even Andy Gray had talks to become manager.  That was until Murdoch got his cheque book out and asked our former forward "how much are they offering you Andy? Because I'll quadruple it."

Anyway, I thought I'd take a look at some players who we've almost had the pleasure of watching at Goodison Park, starting with Charles Joseph John Hart (Yup, that's his real name).

Joe Hart started his career at Shrewsbury Town in 2003 and was signed by FC Denim of Manchester.  He enjoyed loan spells at Tranmere, Blackpool and more notably Birmingham City.  Hart quickly established himself as England's Number 1 and also played for the Under 19s and Under 21s.  But what's Joe Hart got to do with us? Well, before he joined City, Hart was recommended to David Moyes who duly invited the 6ft5 stopper to Bellfield for a trial.  Shrewsbury said they would want a cash plus player deal, the player being a replacement goalkeeper.  We sent John Ruddy.  Two days later, Ruddy was back at Bellfield and the deal was off.  Why? Because John Ruddy was sh*t!!!

Nigel Martyn should have signed for us when Big Nev 's days drew to an end.  We apparently contacted Crystal Palace to place a bid for Martyn, which was accepted.  So did Leeds.  Martyn decided he would travel up north and speak to us.  When he arrived at the club no one met him.  Joe Royle wasnt there, nor was the chairman Peter Johnson.  The secretary got in touch with the Hamper merchant who instructed Martyn to travel to his factory on the Wirral for contract negotiations.  Martyn obliged.  When he arrived, he was kept waiting by the ignorant chairman for ages before deciding to head on up the M62 to Leeds, where he signed straight away.  He did eventually arrive at Everton in 2003, probably 7 years too late.  He produced the form of his life aged 38 during the 04/05 season when we reached the qualifying stages of the Champions League and only stopped playing through medical advice.  David Moyes called Martyn his greatest ever signing.

Paul Ince. I bloody hate Paul Ince. Guv'nor my backside! Anyways.... Ince was playing for Inter Milan when in 1997 he decided he needed to move back home for the sake of his son Thomas (now of Blackpool) attending an English school.  Despite Massimo Moratti offering him a massive contract to stay, Ince turned it down and looked for suitors here.  Everton were one of them suitors.  We had a bid accepted and by all accounts were in talks with the England midfielder.  We were about to sign him when Liverpool caught wind of the deal and decided to turn Ince's head.  Needless to say that Ince chose the dark side and was pictured on the back of the paper with a Carlsberg top a few days later.

Momo Sissoko played for Valencia under a fat Spanish waiter known as Rafael Benitez, and then Claudio Ranieri when Benitez joined Liverpool.  In 2005 we bid around £3.5million for the Malian "better than Vieira" midfielder.  However, Rafa heard of the deal, topped up his phone credit and called Sissoko.  A few days later the deal was sealed.... by Liverpool.

Ever Banega - what a player, by the way, was signed by Everton on a season long loan with a view to a permanent deal from Valencia in 2009. David Moyes said "Ever is on a year's loan. If he's good we will keep him, if not we can always send him back.  Our application for a work permit has been passed and hopefully we will get to see him in a few days.  He has very good ability and is a little bit similar to Mikel Arteta in lots of ways in that he can retain the ball and pass it."  Apparently.  Have you ever seen him in an Everton shirt? Not even on holiday? No? So what happened??  The Argentine midfielder had spent the 2008/09 season with Atletico Madrid and had played 24 games during a loan spell.  We did apply for a visa.  However, Valencia couldn't find a replacement for Banega and continued selecting him for matches, including a Europa League game, making him ineligible for our campaign.  Moyes rightly grew more frustrated and the deal collapsed.  Personally, I was gutted!

Rafael van der Vaart. In 2009, the Dutch playmaker was deemed surplus to requirements at Real Madrid.  Everton contacted his lawyer and the feedback was encouraging, the player stating he would be keen to move to us.  Van der Vaart was denied a squad number and was considering his options, Everton being his favoured choice, when Real Madrid decided to sell Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Klass-Jan Huntelaar and decided they may have room for van der Vaart and handed him the number 23.  A source from the Bernabeu told a newspaper "(Rafael) was only ever going to go to England if he left the Bernabeu, and Everton were the only club who made direct contact.  He was very positive about joining them, but all that changed when Real called him in for a meeting and said they wanted to stay."  If only......

Shaun Wright-Phillips was apparently at Finch Farm talking to David Moyes and being shown around the state of the art facility when deciding his future lay away from Stamford Bridge a few seasons ago.  The tricky winger was out of sorts with Luis Felipe Scolari and when the Brazilian boss was quizzed about the future of the England man, he refused to comment on the possibility of him joining Everton.  However, Manchester City came calling, and understandably Wright-Phillips opted to sign for City where he is a fans favourite.  However, he is currently out of favour with Mancini.  So, who knows? Well, me! Bolton. Nap.

Robbie Keane has been linked with Everton more than any other player in history. Ever. A few seasons ago David Moyes met with Keane in a London hotel for talks.  However, nothing come of it.  I'd have loved Keane at Everton before he opted to join another of his boyhood clubs, Liverpool, and I think he would have done really well for us.  However, he's past his best now, and has obviously touched down in LA for a final swansong and a big fat payday.

Miroslav Klose joined Lazio this summer on a freebie.  He averages an international goal every 1.8 games, and a goal every 1.8 club games too.  He would have been a great signing for us and would have cost the same as Jermaine Beckford did last summer.  We were a number of clubs showing an interest in a player who's vacant price tag would prove him very popular around Europe's top leagues.  As well as Italian and Spanish clubs, we were in with Spurs and Norwich, among other English teams for the German striker.  However, Klose decided to join the Italians and left us to search elsewhere.

In 1997 Fabrizio Ravanelli, the "White Feather" who wouldn't get out of bed for less than £42,000 per week, held talks with Everton.  He knocked us back and held talks with Liverpool. Howard Kendall then tried again to persuade him to see the light.  He agreed, and entered into talks which would see the pay structure blown apart and a fee of £3mil + Graham Stuart and Earl Barrett paid to Middlesbrough.  However, negotiations between club and player broke down and Ravanelli reported back for pre-season training with Middlesbrough 3 weeks late, stating he was very happy to be back at Boro and looking forward to the upcoming season, playing alongside Paul Merson.

Muller or Luis Antonio Correa da Costa is a World Cup Winning Brazilian who played in the 1986, 1990 and 1994 World Cups.  He scored 12 goals in 56 games for Brazil and 112 in 331 domestic games in a career taking him from Brazil to Italy, back to Brazil, to Japan, back to Brazil, back to Italy, before finishing up in Brazil's third tier in 2004.  In 1994, after winning the World Cup in the US, Mike Walker told the press that the application for a work permit was "out of our hands, and all we can do now is wait." Walker then called a press conference to announce the capture and that the player would be making his debut that weekend against QPR.  However, Muller saw his backside when he was told he wouldnt get a free house, or car, and disgustingly and more outrageously, he would have to pay tax on his wages!! He walked out 30 minutes prior to the presser.  He is now a Pastor.

There have been many others, I'm sure you can all think of your own, and feel free to post them in the comments below.

My only hope is that before the window slams shut the current squad have more bodies to help them through. Quality is imperative mind you, and with the purse strings tighter than ever I believe that Moyes must perform his most shrewd business to date.


Follow me on Twitter - @DarrenMelling