Pienaar set for Everton exit as hopes fade on deal
EVERTON are growing increasingly resigned to losing South African international Steven Pienaar on a free transfer when his contract expires next summer as the midfielder continues to refuse to sign an improved deal.
The club offered the 28-year-old a substantial pay increase -- taking him into the top bracket of Goodison Park earners -- to around £65,000-a-week during the summer.
But, with that contract still unsigned and talks at an impasse, Everton now fear the former Ajax and Borussia Dortmund player has no serious intention of agreeing terms.
That would leave him free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club as early as January, or hecould wait until June to secure a lucrative move to one of Everton's Premier League rivals.
Both possibilities would deny David Moyes any sort of return on the £2 million he spent to bring the player to Goodison Park in 2008.
Manchester United and Chelsea have watched the South African previously, while Tottenham manager Harry Reknapp was widely linked with a £15 million move for his services last summer.
Rafael Benítez, the former Liverpool manager, was believed to be considering trying to lure Pienaar across Stanley Park before he left Anfield in July and may well attempt to take him to his new club Inter Milan.
"It would be a massive blow to lose him," said Everton skipper Phil Neville. "He's such an influence."