Sale of Marouane Fellaini dragging on
19 July ~ In a summer of upheaval at Everton – new manager, four new signings and a new badge – it's reassuring to know that some things never change. This year, like most others, Everton still have to deal with speculation that suggests their key players will be on the move, with Marouane Fellaini and Leighton Baines now at the centre of attention. The most galling departure was probably that of Mikel Arteta in 2011. Unlike Wayne Rooney's move to Manchester United or Joleon Lescott to Manchester City, there were no signs Arteta wanted to leave.
Indeed, he gave the club website an interview shortly before going in which he all but apologised for joining Arsenal. But like the sales of Rooney and Lescott it happened desperately late and again, Everton's early season was thrown into chaos. The same thing is threatening to happen this summer as the fate of Fellaini and Baines continues in uncertainty.
Fellaini's release clause, which is claimed to be £23.5 million, expires on August 14 but the transfer talk won't expire with it and neither will speculation linking Baines and David Moyes. Manchester United have made two bids, with £12m their highest offer so far. If Baines does follow Moyes, Martínez at least has the option of Bryan Oviedo as an in-house replacement. The Costa Rican was signed by Moyes for £5m and impressed on his rare outings. More a winger than a defender, he could be a natural replacement for the attack-minded Baines. Meanwhile, there's been little talk of a new central-midfielder moving to Goodison as either a compliment to or replacement for Fellaini, but it's an area Everton could do with strengthening regardless.
Roberto Martínez has stressed his desire to retain both players and at the new boss' unveiling chairman Bill Kenwright insisted that only Fellaini was vulnerable to an offer from elsewhere, because of the clause in his contract. Then again, Kenwright vowed never to sell Rooney, then was adamant he wouldn't accept less than £50m for the teenager – who was soon sold and for substantially less than that.
It's a two-way street – Fellaini moved to Everton from Standard Liege late on the August deadline day in 2008 – but when it comes to rival Premier League clubs, Everton are regularly the victims of the urgency the window creates. In the case of Arteta, Arsenal were unable to organise a bid before the last day of the window and Arsène Wenger ended up shifting his problems on to Everton. Something similar this summer could prove disastrous for Martínez's hopes of a strong start in his new job. Andrew Tuft