The Lescott Saga: An Evertonian Solution.

What's right for Lescott, but more to the point, what's right for Everton?

What's right for Lescott, but more to the point, what's right for Everton?

With just ten days to go in the Summer transfer window for British clubs, it’s fair to expect that quite soon more and more transfers will start to fly through, as managers rush to complete their squad for the first half of the season. One transfer that has dragged on and on all Summer though is Manchester City’s protracted pursuit of Joleon Lescott from my club, Everton. David Moyes has been hugely stubborn in upholding principles and has done what every non-City fan in the country wanted him to do, in standing up to their money.

However, given that Everton had a very poor start to the season with their abject display against Arsenal, and given that Lescott was subsequently omitted from the squad for the 4-0 Europa League victory over Sigma because of what Moyes described as ‘bad attitude’, I think it may well be time to allow him to leave. I’m Lescott’s biggest fan and have praised him many times on this site, but I think in terms of what’s best for Everton, we should take the money and use it wisely. I even have some suggestions as to how it should be used…

It’s clear that Everton need to add some depth to the first team squad if we are to seriously push for a Champions League spot, and with the form of Tottenham and the potential of City, even securing a Europa League place is going to be hard work this season. With the long term injuries to Mikel Arteta, Phil Jagielka, Yakubu and Victor Anichebe still weighing us down, it’s no wonder that Moyes has admitted he’s become “demented” with trying to add to his squad this summer.

However, Everton are a club that simply do not have the financial resources of most of their direct competitors. The likes of Tottenham, Aston Villa and even Sunderland have spent considerably more money in the past few seasons than Everton, and that makes the Toffees’ consecutive 5th place finishes even more admirable. Still, there comes a point where investment is necessary and we have reached it – unfortunately, the funds just aren’t available.

That makes signing players difficult, especially when you have the moneybags like City sniffing around too. A couple of Moyes’ targets this Summer have ended up joining other clubs for reasons that can surely only be financial – Kyle Naughton joined a Spurs side with hundreds of right backs and no European football while Fabian Delph went to Villa because of O’Neill’s reputation for bringing through talent, something that Moyes shares along with higher Premier League finishes. But not a giant cheque book it seems.

Thus we have so far been thwarted in our attempts to add to the squad and have secured only one signing of note: that of Jo back from Man City on a season long loan, which is a good bit of business. However, with 10 days left to add the necessary depth, Moyes needs some money and with none forthcoming, it therefore seems to be time to cash in on our most valuable expendable asset, namely: Joleon Lescott.

“His attitude has been very poor in the last few days and for that reason alone I will not include him.” [Everton boss David Moyes, on Lescott’s exclusion from the squad.]

So far we’re led to believe that Man City have had offers of £15m & £18m rebuffed by Everton who doubtless know that Lescott isn’t actually worth half that, but are fully aware of the Citizens’ financial power. And that’s certainly the right thing to do. If we’re going to sell to a rival, and make no mistake City are just that, then it has to be well worth our while. Which is why if I were David Moyes, I would pick up the phone and tell Mark Hughes to send £25m and Micah Richards to Goodison.

Yes, that’s an awful lot of money and an extremely talented player, but Richards hasn’t been in the best form of late and if Hughes is as eager as he seems to get his hands on Lescott, he shouldn’t be too disappointed to part with the England U21 international. It would be a fantastic deal for Everton because in Moyes’ nurturing hands, I’m positive that Richards would flourish into the world class player that we saw glimpses of a few seasons ago, and £25m could immediately be put to good use.

Moyes knows that he has a few holes in his squad. He has some lack of depth at right-back, but Richards would fill that hole perfectly, providing ample competition for Tony Hibbert while also providing cover at centre-back. Of course, Lescott himself would have to be replaced but Everton officials are reportedly already in negotiations with Newcastle over the signing of Steven Taylor who, like Richards, perfectly fits Moyes criteria of being young, English and talented and would certainly fill a void until Jagielka regains fitness.

Taylor should be available for around £5m from Newcastle, leaving Moyes with a healthy £20m to add to the rest of his squad. Of course, there’s already the possible arrival of Ever Banega on loan for the season from Valencia who is a fine young player in a defensive midfield role and if granted a work permit later today, will prove another astute acquisition from Moyes – with an option to sign permanently no doubt involved in the deal too.

Still, I’ve no doubt that Moyes would be keen to reinvest some of the remaining £20m right away and even with Banega’s arrival, he would want to add some spark to his midfield. The most notable absence at present is that of Mikel Arteta who quite simply runs our side when fit. While the likes of Fellaini and Cahill are fine players they don’t have the ability to dictate the play as the Spaniard does, and while Osman and Pienaar provide sparks of life, they affect games in sudden short bursts rather than gaining a prolonged strangle hold.

This was particularly obvious on Saturday against Arsenal where, if you could see past the atrocious defending, it was clear that we lacked direction and inspiration when in possession and so apart from a few penetrating moves down the flank that can quickly become predictable, we never posed much of a threat. Thus I think Moyes will look to add a creative midfielder to his ranks before the window closes, if at all he can.

“There are 11 days to go and I feel we need to add four players to the squad in that time.” [Moyes knows that he needs more depth in his squad.]

There have been rumours aplenty about Rasmus Elm over the past few weeks, and he seems to be about the most laid back footballer in the world. Despite being invited to a number of top clubs Elm has remained infuriatingly calm and refused to be rushed into making a decision as to where to leave current club Kalmar for. That said, he has stated that he was impressed by Moyes and Everton and I would like to think that the club will be doing all it can to get him on board, and certainly being able to make a convincing £5m bid for his services could seal the deal.

Elm, while a prodigious talent (apparently – I’ve not seen him in action), is still but a youngster though he would be given ample opportunity to impress, like Rodwell and Gosling currently are, I think Moyes would also like to add something more to the equation. Which is why I think he should seriously consider a bid for Real Madrid’s Rafael Van Der Vaart, who is seemingly unhappy at the Bernabeu and rightly so, given that they’ve signed a whole new team and he couldn’t get a game anyway.

He’s a player who I always used to sign while playing as Everton in the Football Manager games and he showed in Euro 2008 that he is a very good player with a lethal left foot, whether it be used to pick a pass or strike at goal. At 26 years old he already has plenty of experience and would be a very good Premier League player. The only problems I see are that his wage demands may be too high for us (coming, as he would, from Madrid) and that there would be much competition from his signature, with clubs like Arsenal and Liverpool already linked with him.

If Van Der Vaart was not a realistic option though, I think that Moyes want to think seriously about attempting to bring Aiden McGeady south of the border from Celtic. I’ve been an admirer of McGeady’s for some time and in their match against Arsenal the other night he looked dangerous every time he got the ball, with his explosive burst of pace and skin tight ball control. He’d add a whole new dimension to our attacking play and as they look like crashing out of the Champions League, we could match the Europa League football he’d get at Celtic.

McGeady too would be a player who I feel sure would attract much interest and there have been one or two rumours about him, but I think that if Moyes got in quietly and talked to the player he could easily convince him to join his project at Everton. A number of times players who have excelled in the Scots league have failed to make the conversion to the Premiership but I think McGeady would recognise that Moyes is the man who can get the most out of any player and would be a fine boss to aid his development.

Overall then, I think there are some really attractive possibilities out there for Everton if they do decide to take the money being offered for Joleon Lescott. Lescott would be a big loss, but he is certainly not irreplacable and if losing Lescott allows us to strengthen the squad as a whole then I feel that it has to be an avenue worth exploring. Essentially though, Moyes needs to move fast if he does decide to sell because there’s no point letting him go and then having no time to spend the profit.

Essentially then, my proposals for Everton’s transfer activity in the last 10 days of this transfer window would look like this:

> Joleon Lescott (£25m + Micah Richards)
> Micah Richards (Part-Ex for Lescott)
> Ever Banega (Loan)
> Steven Taylor (≈£5m)
> Rasmus Elm (≈£5m)
> Rafael Van Der Vaart (≈£8m)
OR Aiden McGeady (≈£8m)

This then represents an outlay of ≈£18m of the potential £25m transfer fee that could be received for Lescott, and the prospect of adding five players to the squad at the expense of one. Looking at the two lists I’d say that the most sensible course of action is clear: selling Lescott would be a sad day for every Evertonian, but it would almost certainly – on paper at least – be best for the football club as a whole.

Of course, my outline of ‘what I’d do’ if I were Moyes takes into account very few of the realistic details that are involved in signing a player. However, I don’t have an intimate knowledge of how all that works, but my suggestions are based on players that are, or at least could be, seemingly available for transfer and valuations that seem to me, to be feasible in the current market. Whether Moyes rates these players as I do would ultimately have the final say on the plausibility of such a scheme but I think it’s fair to say that it’s possible.

The main point of this exercise though was, I suppose, to demonstrate that the time has come to let Lescott go. A few weeks ago I never thought I would see myself type that last sentence, but since then Lescott has handed in a transfer request and apparently displayed a poor attitude in training. While I certainly don’t blame Lescott for our defeat (indeed I acknowledged in my reaction to the game that he played better than most) I certainly feel that such disruption amongst the squad cannot be helping the harmony and therefore success of the team.

Ultimately no one player is bigger than the club, even if that player is (as I’ve argued before on this blog) one of the best central defenders in the league and in the country. Everton are a team that need additions to our squad if we are to continue our progression under Moyes, and he knows that better than anyone. I have infinite admiration for the way Moyes has conducted himself throughout this affair and for the integrity and value he has shown in standing up to City, but I think now the time has come to let Lescott go.

Doing so would in no way constitute a backing down or a defeat on Moyes part, it would simply show that he is aware that sometimes in order to take three of four steps forward you have to take one step back, and that he is willing to do what it takes to move the football club forward. That said, if Moyes chooses not to sell Lescott, then I will retain complete faith in him, because In Moyes We Trust.

Have your say:

Place your vote and leave a comment if you disagree with what I have to say, or have other suggestions for potential transfer targets for Everton…



7 Responses to The Lescott Saga: An Evertonian Solution.

  1. Will Brennan says:

    Steven Taylor !!! As far as I’m concerned he is everything that’s wrong with the English game. He is so poor it’s unbelievable. Apart from that I agree with everything you say, an excellent article. I myself would’nt mind having a go for Hangeland from Fulham, but the problem being left sided centre backs are a lot harder to find.

  2. Gareth Fieldstead says:

    I too would love Hangeland but he would cost a lot more than 5 million. As with all rumour sites it is hard to seperate at times the rubbish from the genuine. Even so called respectable media outlets such as Sky Sports are suggesting they are in talks with Taylor and Bystrov. This also appears to be taking place ( if true! ) without any mention of Lescott leaving to fund such deals. Can we actually believe that Kenwright has secured further funds for Moyes? If so would he still have all the money from the sale of Lescott? My target then would be Defour from Standard Leige. I am amazed that he hasn’t already been bought, but securing his signature and that of the above and the return of our injured trio would make us as strong as any team in the country. Lets hope he can secure some worthwhile signings and last nights result becomes the norm again.

  3. Shanks says:

    Things to consider…
    Wolves will take up to 15% of our profit on a transfer
    Kenwright will take as much as he can to hold off the banks and syphon away in the Desolation Kirkby Fund
    We’ll have precious little left to replace a centre half cum backup left-back
    Moyes should get as many players in part-ex as he can to foil Kenwright and play as fair as he can with Wolves

  4. A. Howard says:

    Shanks: I wasn’t aware that we had a 15% sell-on clause with Wolves, thanks for letting me know. Still though, assuming that my approximated transfer fees are at least in the ball park, 15% of 25m is 3.75m, which would be easily left over from the outlined transfers if they went through at the suggested prices, though of course that’s all theoretical.

    I’m not sure why Kenwright gets such flak from our fans. I know that he doesn’t bankroll the club in the way we need him to but that’s because he simply doesn’t have the money. If we were to sell Lescott I’m fairly sure Moyes would have full license to reinvest it. Bill always, in my opinion at least, works with the club’s interests in mind.

    Will: Steve Taylor, I must admit that I was initially sceptical and I would prefer Hangeland or even Senderos too, but the likelihood of those transfers happening seems slim. I’m not sure Taylor is as bad as you think, he was playing in an awful Newcastle side and still came out with some credit (or I thought he did anyway!). In Moyes hands, he could turn out well.

    Gareth: I agree that Defour would be an excellent signing but he would be more expensive than the options I suggested. Rumour had it that we offered 12m and though I don’t believe it, Standard would probably hold out for another 15m as they did with Fellaini last summer.

    All in all though gents, lets just hope that we can get a few players in. I’m sure Moyes will have some players in mind, so fingers crossed. Thanks for your comments 🙂

  5. Tom Roberts says:

    Over a beer in Seattle this Summer, I asked Steve Round about Joleon. He said that Joleon had been an absolute pro all summer, training well etc, etc. Steve said that Joleon was simply ‘Not for sale’ unless we can get a deal that can move the club forward. I asked about 30 million and Micah Richards thrown in? Steve agreed with me that we would be losing one of the best centre halves and left backs in the country. If we can get Steven Taylor (in my opinion, Lescott’s equal) and a winger or creative midfielder to boot then it’s a no brainer (sorry, but I’ve been in the States for 18 months). Players move on and for me the loss of Mikel Arteta, Jagielka or even Rodwell would damage us more. On another note, watch out for Jose baxter & James Wallace this season. In training and against MLS All Stars they looked the part.

  6. Shanks says:

    Mr H
    Everton have finished 5th 2 years running in the richest league in the world, reached the FA Cup final and appeared 27 times on TV last season; and yet we are skint

    Many of us feel that the primary reason for the club’s lack of signings, last close season and this, is that any spare cash is being kept back for the Kirkby fiasco rather than investing it in the team – a sure way to disaster

    If/when (God forbid) Kirby happens and Kenwright miraculously finds the £80 – £130 million (whichever is this week’s figure) down the back of the sofa, this belief will be vindicated and Kenwright exposed

  7. Matilda says:

    It is surprising that with everyone speaking of player’s power and such that no one has mentioned that just last summer a player made it astoundingly clear that he wanted to go to a club, but stayed where he was none the less (I’m talking about Ronaldo). Ferguson was admirable in showing that he truly was boss and that if he wanted to keep a player he could. If Moyes’ really wants to keep Joleon Lescott, then he can. Lescott signed a contract, and if he still wanted to be considered by City in the January transfer window, or next summer, he would have to keep playing well.
    If Moyes’ wishes to retain clear authority over his players, then he could feasibly keep Lescott. That being said, I do think that it would be in his best interest to sell him now and buy up players to strengthen his squad (especially considering Lescott isn’t worth anywhere near 25mil). Though I highly doubt Van der Vaart will be donning blue at Goodison anytime soon. 🙂

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