Friday 23 March 2018

Moyes is braced for January sales blues

Paul Wilson

David Moyes is not the greatest fan of the January transfer window and is usually glad when it closes.

While Everton do not like to regard themselves as a selling club, everyone knows the history and the financial situation, and Moyes will keep turning out sides with players good enough to attract interest from clubs in the Champions League bracket.

"We always seem to have players the top clubs are looking at," the Everton manager said. "That means I always end up relieved if we reach the end of January without selling anyone important."

Today's opponents Chelsea were linked with a move for Leighton Baines a few days ago, though Moyes is keen to play that down, and just about everyone in Europe is interested in Marouane Fellaini. Moyes would rather keep the powerful Belgian than cash in, but he knows what that would take.

"If you want to keep your top players you have to give them European football," he said. "That's what everyone wants nowadays, and if you can't deliver they will eventually move elsewhere.

"I think if we could make the Champions League this season we would have a real chance of holding on to Fellaini, but that's a big ask. Yes, we are keeping pace with Chelsea and Arsenal, but if you were a betting man, looking at our history of competing in the European Cup, or not competing after Heysel, you would have to say we are outsiders.

"I don't want to talk down our chances, but at the same time you have to be realistic. The only time we have managed a Champions League finish in my time we were unable to get past the qualifiers."

What Moyes remembers from that period in 2005 is the number, and the quality, of players from leading European sides who were suddenly keen on joining Everton. That made a refreshing change, and with a little bit more money this time and a lot more experience, he would very much like to go through the process again.

"I couldn't believe the players I was speaking to on the phone," he recalled. "I was almost starstruck. That is definitely the next level to aim for. The worry for me is that we cannot afford to slip back."

Team-building would be so much easier with the sort of money clubs can pick up in the Champions League, for while Moyes did better than most managers last January by hiring Nikica Jelavic and securing Steven Pienaar's return, he was only able to do so because Spartak Moscow paid £5.5m for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. Everton lost money overall on a player they had signed for £10m, but Moyes knew exactly how he could spend £5.5m. "We feel we spent the money well, but raising £5.5m in the first place was the key last January," he said.

"With Jelavic's arrival, with his goals – he has given us something we have not had for a long time. And I think overall you have seen big improvements.

"The Leighton Baines-Steven Pienaar partnership is back together, the form of people like Leon Osman and Darron Gibson . . . overall we have been really pleased with 2012."

Through his plentiful Belgian contacts Moyes was aware of Eden Hazard earlier than most, but had a hunch he might go to someone like Chelsea, and while he wishes he had Chelsea's resources at his disposal, he bears Rafa Benitez no ill will, even after a few dust-ups when both were on Merseyside.


Everton v Chelsea,

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