Tim Cahill's playing career is likely over.
After signing with Shanghai Shenhua last year, a surge in form prompted the Chinese club to extend Cahill through the 2016 season. However, with a new manager set to takeover for this season, Cahill has been told that he's not part of the club's future plans, and his contract has been terminated.
For anyone who's watched the Australian soccer legend for the past decade-plus, it's impossible to think he could step away from the game completely. So, could he have a future on the coaching staff at Goodison Park?
Here's two reasons why and one for why not.
Everton's scorers could learn from Cahill
Everton's two best goalscorers, Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley, are more talented players than Cahill, but that doesn't mean they've both exceeded the heights of Cahill's peak years. Cahill certainly approves of the consistency that Lukaku has shown this season. The physical tools of the Belgian have finally matched up with the personnel in the attacking midfield, and that's helped vault Lukaku to the status of one of the BPL's elite strikers.
Like Lukaku, Barkley is also in the midst of his best season at Everton. However, the English midfielder can still develop and polish his game more, which is scary considering his age and quality. Cahill's presence on the training pitch would almost surely help Barkley add more headed goals to his catalogue of spectacular strikes. Everton won't always dominate possession, so Barkley will need to pick his sports when he wants to charge into the six-yard box for an aerial strike. And no midfielder at Everton was better at that since Cahill.
Cahill can keep the old guard in
Unfortunately, Gareth Barry and Phil Jagielka won't be playing for Everton forever. Less unfortunately, neither will Tim Howard. Once those names leave the pitch, an era of Everton will officially be over. Heck, it almost seems like it is with Barkley, Lukaku, Gerard Deulofeu and John Stones now running the show. Not only can Cahill provide continuity as a coach, but he can bring back what was good about his Toffees teams of the mid-2000s.
In an increasingly friendly Premier League where kits are swapped more often than Valentine's Day cards, the fire that Cahill played with was refreshing. Is it possible to coach with that fire to young players? Not always, but Cahill's pedigree would obviously earn him the instant respect needed if he was introduced as a coach. Along with Duncan Ferguson who is already on the coaching staff, the pair can instill some much-needed fight in the current crop of players.
If we've learned anything from Leicester City (and to a lesser extent, Watford) this season, it's that good Championship players can become good BPL players on winning teams. Cahill was that player. Though Everton, like almost everybody, has spanned its search for players internationally, the club will still continue to sign young players from within the English leagues. It's hard to think of a better man to help develop those players than Cahill.
Would he jell with Martinez?
That's the most important question here. Cahill never played under Roberto Martinez, so it's impossible to know how they'd coexist if there was a day-to-day relationship there. As Martinez's stamp on Everton grows with every month he remains at the club, it almost seems more unlikely that a former player like Cahill could return to the fold.
But here's the rub, this question doesn't get muddled because we don't know what a Cahill/Martinez relationship would be like. Rather, it gets muddled because there's no clear indicator for Martinez's level of stability at the club late in his third season.
As the fifth and sixth-place finishes of Cahill's era and the years immediately after become more of a memory, it becomes more justifiable as a fan to want to see Cahill come back in some coaching capacity. It hasn't always been perfectly clear what the current goal is for Everton, but what has been clear is that the club has underwhelmed for the past 18 months while having talent in place.
Tim Cahill still loves Everton, and fans still love him. If only things were that simple.